In another twist involving the public protector’s office‚ the Minister of Co-operative Governance an.
Ah! There is power and magic in song; there is oneness and harmony in song; there is strength and agreement in song; there is beauty and serenity in song; there is understanding and peace in song, and that's what ubuntu is all about - thanks, in no small part, to Mankayi Enoch Sontonga's legacy, Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika.
What was it that inspired Sontonga to write this enduring testament to the human spirit's ability to overcome adversity? Evidently, Sontonga is proof that the pen is mightier than the sword - and oh-so melodic too.
As Professor Khabi Mngoma aptly put it: "Music is indispensable in the lives of black South Africans, especially Africans. In impoverished rural communities, people depend mainly on themselves to provide the music they use in different social circumstances."
In the early 1980s I went in search of the memory of the Uitenhage-born composer at his former home in Old Klipspruit location. It turned into an historical journey of discovery in my anthology Umhlaba Wethu (April 1987), followed by a stage production and television interpretation called Nkosi! The Healing Song in 1992.
In 1997 we celebrated the centenary of Nkosi with performances at the Wits Great Hall. The Post Office issued a special stamp in Sontonga's honour on Heritage Day.
My research was blessed by providence: firstly, it was sponsored by the South African Council of Churches, then by Bishop Desmond Tutu with a grant of R2000 and later with an endorsement by Makhulu - Alice "The Boxing Granny" Sontonga, of Diepkloof - the widow of Sontonga's son, Wonga.
Whenever I visited Ma Sontonga, she would not let me leave until I had had tea and some of her home-made cakes. We call them "Potchefstrooms" in the townships.
Another blessing was from the literary moruti [priest], OSD Mooki, of Orlando East, who took me to the exact spot on which stood the church over which Mankayi Enoch Sontonga presided. It is in what is now Pimville, behind Musi High School, just behind the new shopping centre. Is the South African Heritage Resources Agency listening?
I tried to find the grave of Tata Sontonga in Braamfontein, poring over the register at the Braamfontein Cemetery without success. All I found were references to the burial of "Kaffir this" and "Kaffir that".
MaSontonga consoled me by saying that, as long as we knew Tata was buried there, then "that's all that mattered, son". The grave was finally located in the "Native Christian" section of Braamfontein Cemetery in the early 1990s. It had been difficult to find because it was listed under "Enoch" and not "Sontonga".
One hundred and ten years after the creation of Nkosi as a hymn, it is appropriate to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the legacy Sontonga bequeathed, not only to us in South Africa, but to all of Africa. The song spread beyond the borders of South Africa and has been translated into a number of languages. It is the national anthem of Tanzania and Zambia, and has been sung in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa for many years. In 1994, it became part of South Africa's national anthem.
Why not boldly, proudly and profoundly rename the colonial Union Buildings, in Pretoria, the Enoch Mankayi Sontonga Buildings?
There is no reason why relevant structures nationally cannot complete this process before we hold our third general elections in 2009. I propose that the Ministry of Arts and Culture make a final pronouncement on renaming the Union Buildings in honour of Mankayi Enoch Sontonga to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Soccer World Cup in June 2010.
Soccer's premier tournament will then be held for the first time on the continent that Sontonga first identified in his hymn in 1897 - exactly 110 years ago. Talk about having a prophetic vision; talk about a vision of pan-Africanism.
That's my understanding of great-grandfather Mankayi Enoch Sontonga.
Has the journey to rediscover the fullness of Mankayi Enoch Sontonga ended? No, it has just taken a short break. History is a journey we revisit from time to time. Memory is our heritage.
lMothobi Mutloatse is a writer and publisher