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Never forget to tell your kids: freedom was never free

ON SEPTEMBER 15 I was a guest at the 30th anniversary of Sasria - an insurance company of which businessman Cyril Ramaphosa is chairman.

ON SEPTEMBER 15 I was a guest at the 30th anniversary of Sasria - an insurance company of which businessman Cyril Ramaphosa is chairman.

Those in the labour movement hopefully read me correctly: I said "businessman" and not "ANC businessman" because Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi does not put up with the nonsense of people who straddle the lanes between politics and business.

This does not for a moment suggest I am Vavi's hush puppy. I know when to bark and bite and am just as aware of the difference between the business of politics and the politics of business.

In Vavi's book you are either in politics or in business. This is the same book that the Black Management Forum (BMF) is throwing at current president Jimmy Manyi in the wake of his appointment as director-general of the Labour Ministry. It is the same book by which some in the ANC found Barney Pityana guilty by association with the Congress of the People.

BMF's yearning for a distinct non-partisan space, to be heard without political clatter, is not without foundation.

Equally, those charged with the enzymes of political correctness should not hurry to deposit "chairperson" on my lips as Ramaphosa is known and referred to by the 30-year-old Sasria as chairman. My invitation, sent care of the June 16 Foundation, was unmistakably issued on behalf of the chairman of this insurance company. The event was at Constitutional Hill.

Insurance being the necessary devil where even angels agree their wings alone would not suffice for universal cover, I honoured Ramaphosa's invitation not to lend my ears to an insurance sales talk but curious to know what Sasria's 30th anniversary had to do with June 16 1976.

Remember that the event was within hearing distance of the Constitutional Court, albeit after hours. The occasion presented my juvenile but sober heart with an opportunity to be on the lookout for how judges behave when there is no accused person in front of them.

Having sailed through two glasses of red wine, my head was still sturdy and within legal limit to notice that Judge Albie Sachs was also in attendance. As it turned out, this was the night on which Sasria's 30th anniversary coincided with honouring the Class of 1976 stalwarts.

True to form, more than wining, dining and deserts, interspersed with Umoja's bewitching dance moves and Abigail Kubheka's nostalgic ditties, Ramaphosa's talk was a moving walk down memory lane, rekindling an unstoppable struggle whose defining moments laid the basis for the celebrated present-day breakthroughs that are yet to deliver a better life for all.

Sasria, Ramaphosa recalled, came out of the realisation that conventional insurance did not cover political upheavals. In response to extending cover to all of life's episodes, Sasria came into being in 1979. Born out of the fighting chance of a people to be free, Sasria saw fit to mark its 30th anniversary with the powerful memory of the students who took the Struggle from the classroom into the streets, irreversibly rewriting the history books.

All else thereafter was an epoch-making writing on the wall: oppressive rule had no future to speak of or live for.

But it was not without the loss of life, limb and property. For those who choose to forget June 16 1976, Alice Walker's words should to ring true to ears that listen: "Remember who we are. We are a people for whom someone died."

And do not forget to tell your children that freedom was never free. Thanks to Cyril for being in the politics of business without forgetting that truism.

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