Sat Oct 22 20:10:50 SAST 2016

There's a lesson to be learnt from Ntatemoholo's life

By unknown | May 29, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ntatemoholo Piet Fume celebrated his 100th birthday on July 14 2007 and looked forward to his next birthday.

Ntatemoholo Piet Fume celebrated his 100th birthday on July 14 2007 and looked forward to his next birthday.

We, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and everyone who knew him turned up at his centenary birthday party in a marquee pitched in the street outside 4040 Roistena (Rooisteen) section, his house in historic Sharpeville in the Vaal.\

What a street bash it was. He was in his element as he challenged Chief Buthelezi's Guinness World Records title for the longest speech ever.

"It is my birthday," he reminded those who dared to interrupt his speech.

Last week he died in his sleep, my maternal grandfather. Peacefully, we say with relief, because neither was he murdered nor hit by an unlicensed teenage driver as he crossed the street.

The old man had lived through many violent periods, two world wars that were preceded the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War that ended in the Peace Treaty of Vereeniging on his doorstep.

Then the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, 1976 Soweto uprising and the very recent xenophobic carnage.

This senseless violence against our own, when everything seemed well after so much strife, might have tired him out.

He was an optimist and a wise old man, Ntate Fume, as his neighbours knew and called him.

Number 4040 is next to George Thabe Stadium and the Sharpeville Precinct where the March 21 1960 monument in remembrance of the 69 slain residents stands.

One wintry afternoon Len Kumalo and I found him basking on the front porch. He talked about our diversity and the need for unity.

Saying he wanted to show us something, he darted into the house, returning with a jacket that he quickly put on. It was fancy. It was adorned with a kaleidoscope of stickers of the various political parties that had visited Sharpeville.

Imagine an IFP sticker next to an ANC, DA or PAC one and even the old NNP emblems, all juxtaposed on the back and front of Ntatemoholo's jacket.

Wait. He even had all the parties' flags. You see, many a political event takes place in Sharpeville - especially at George Thabe Stadium.

So it was from the stadium where these political parties would bus supporters to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on big occasions.

This explains why Ntatemoholo had multiparty stickers pinned to his jacket, which I called his technicolor coat - as in the musical Joseph and his technicolor dreamcoat.

He went to all the rallies in the capital regardless of party affiliation. In fact, he said his allegiance was to all of them.

I think there is a lesson here.

We, his descendants, will remember how until not so long ago he insisted on riding his bicycle, which had to be dismantled and stored beyond his reach.

The reason was that when he fell he broke a limb, only to return to cycling once it was healed.

He suspected foul play but could not pin down the culprit who put his beloved bicycle to rest.

Piet Fume lived his life and now is deservedly resting.


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