Statement by Malusi Gigaba, ANCYL President, at the funeral of Cde Wanga Sigila, late SASCO Deputy President, Cape Town 23 October 1999

"Oh dear, I can't go to the gods again with no room to offer them.

Having failed in the service of the gods, I shall run to my den in the

sewer pipe down by the river and hide from their sight."

So says Wong, a character in Bertolt Brecht's The good woman of Setzuan

thinking that, in failing to find them accommodation for the night, he

has failed the gods, having promised them that there was at least one

person still left in Setzuan good enough to accommodate them.

For failing the gods, Wong prefers to run into hiding.

Surely, such thinking would fit many people present here today.

Wondering what the purpose of our lives has been; what we have tried to

do and achieved, many of us would reach this conclusion that we cannot

go to the gods again, to face them and tell them we have nothing to

offer.

Rather, we would choose to run to our dens and hide from their sight.

But, this is not how the gods think!

To Wong, they respond kindly:is not how the gods think!

To Wong, they respond kindly:

O you feeble, well-intentioned, and yet feeble chap

Where there's need the fellow thinks there is no goodness!

When there's danger he thinks courage starts to ebb away!

Some people only see the seamy side!

What hasty judgement! What premature desperation!

In many of us are to be found such elements which the gods regard as

feebleness, hasty judgement and premature desperation.

The day has come to pass when Wanga was among us in flesh and spirit;

when he walked and worked with us; when he showed us his sharpness and

the quality that made him our leader.

The youth movement, which became the mettle of his pasture, is all the

weaker and poorer without him. We had grown accustomed to his presence,

we had thought he would be with us for many many ages to come.

And, yet death, in its usual silent arts of theft, stung us once more

and had it that Wanga needed to return to his gods, to face them and

explain if he did provide them with a room while still walking the

earth.

Certainly, those of us that served with Wanga will agree that he has not

failed in the service of the gods; he has no reason to run to his den to

hide from their sight.

We can draw such conclusions because we know that if through his

relentless struggle he provided room to his fellow person, then surely

this room he offered to the gods.

As he returns to face th room he offered to the gods.

As he returns to face them, today walking his very last journey ever

back to the soils whence he came; and as the gods sit anxiously awaiting

his arrival, their arms are open and their faces are beaming with smiles

because one of their most outstanding sons is returning, to report to

them about the changes in the country he leaves after devoting his

entire life to building a better life for his people.

He has transcended to the world beyond the comprehension of the living.

He has left a huge void in our hearts and souls that will be hard to

fill.

A deep sense of desolation has filled our hearts as we realise that

truly, one of us, our brother and leader, has marched on with his life.

Comrade Wanga has transcended beyond this life, to enter a new life

where he assumes immortality, looms larger than life itself and

eternally inspires many a generation of young lions who successively

must rise to the command posts of this democratic revolution.

He dared to walk where even the brave dared not; laughed to contend with

the pain of the poverty of his people; cried and sobbed to give

expression to the joy of his people’s march onward ever to genuine

social and economic emancipation; fought to bring about peace; and used

peace to fight a war against oppression, exploitation, poverty and

illiteracy.

All, because he was not a feeble chap who thought there was no goodness

where there was need; who tht there was no goodness

where there was need; who thought courage started to ebb away when there

was danger; who saw only the seamy side; and made hasty judgements and

expressed premature desperation!

Well-intentioned, indeed he was!

A thoroughgoing revolutionary, that was him.

A young lion and young giant, fear was not one of his traits.

To his end he remained completely devoted to the general cause of his

people for national and social emancipation; as well as to the cause of

youth, and students in particular.

Wanga believed that his purpose would have no purpose if it was not

spent and dedicated to the genuine national, social and economic

emancipation of his people.

He believed that such purpose would not be fulfilled if his struggle

ended only when national liberation was attained.

He sought a higher ideal; he fought for a higher type of society; and

concluded that such an ideal society was a socialist society.

As a result, he dedicated his life to fighting capitalism, for he had

been born into a society where the minority enjoyed all the fruit of the

labour of the majority.

He had lived in poverty and resolved to end it - not just for him but

for his entire people!

It was for this reason that his entire young life was devoted to

struggle.

As he struggled to change the conditions in which he studied; as he

struggled to change the education system to make it accessible t he

struggled to change the education system to make it accessible to the

majority of black youth in particular, as he fought for a universal and

quality education and training, he was driven by this deep desire to

build a better life, not just for himself, but for the majority of his

people.

He stood in deadly opposition to oppression and exploitation, knowing

that injustice and inequality were not the destiny of humankind.

He knew that humankind's destiny lay in freedom, justice and equality;

in a society where everyone produced for society and not for private

wealth, and he fought to bring this society about.

At the same time, he knew that a special responsibility fell on the

masses of the African people and the working class in particular, the

worst victims of exploitation and oppression, to play their historic

role by being their own liberators.

Yet, he also knew that such people needed the revolutionary

intellectuals who would interpret their situation and give vision to

their aspirations; and he presented himself as one such intellectual.

Knowing that as an individual, no matter what indignation he held in his

heart for apartheid and capitalism, he was powerless, he found home in

the movement led by the ANC and in it, joined ranks with his fellow

comrades and he filed among them executing loyally the mandate and

instructions of the organisation and its leadership.

I raise all these questions like this because I hold a

I raise all these questions like this because I hold a very firm

conviction in my heart that his life was a shining lesson for the youth

of South Africa, particularly for the students whence he studied.

We have got to learn that we need to live our lives as loyal servants of

our people.

We have to learn that we need to struggle!

To struggle because the change we seek in our country will be a result

of a resolute struggle – together fighting for change. The struggle

continues!

The youth must aspire for a higher ideal, a higher society!

We must learn to respect and follow the movement and its leadership; to

be loyal to the masses of the ordinary men and women who are the motive

force for transformation.

Such things we must do because as a generation, it is now high time that

we pronounced, in front of our whole country and for all to know, our

mission and what we intend to dw, our

mission and what we intend to do to fulfil this mission.

In this, I am sure that we will agree that our sole mission, our

ultimate destiny, is the fulfilment of the strategic objective of

creating a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society.

I take it for granted that we know that accomplishing a revolution is a

task that takes not just a single generation, but successive

generations.

The previous generations of youth, having achieved their mission of

defeating apartheid-colonialism, and having helped to lay the

foundations for the creation of a new society, cannot fulfil this task

for us.

The future generations of youth, having not experienced apartheid

directly, cannot be expected to inherit this mission. Such is the

mission that our generation must itself fulfil!

To past and future generations we owe the obligation to achieve the

genuine national emancipation of all black people and Africans in

particular; to eradicate sexism and racism and to create democracy and

unite our nation.

To be able to fulfil this mission, we need to proceed from the premise

that we, as advanced cadres of this revolution, must mobilise all youth,

as a generation, collectively to undertake all the necessary national

tasks that will result in the creation of this new South African

society.

Accordingly, from our ranks must emerge a new cadre, a new person that

will epitomise the change our country re, a new person that

will epitomise the change our country is going through and become known

as a cadre for change; a new cadre that a new and free South Africa

needs.

Such a cadre is not selfish but selfless; she strives not for personal

glory or material benefits ahead of the full glory of her people free

and enjoying a better life.

I stand over the still remains of Comrade Wanga today to charge you, in

his name, to undertake your social responsibility and exercise social

discipline in your daily lives.

To all of you I say we must fight HIV/AIDS with all the might at our

disposal. We must become the activists of the campaign to defeat the

HIV/AIDS disease and mobilise all youth to either abstain from sex, or

have single partners to whom they are faithful, but otherwise to

condomise.

I charge you to ask yourselves each day: What did I do today to change

somebody else's life?

Today, as we walk Comrade Wanga to his final resting-place, we are

profoundly grateful for only having had the honour to work and fight

with him.

We feel privileged for having been counted among his friends.

As we sing his praises and lay him to eternal rest, we know that we have

many battles still to fight.

We know that his rest is only partial, for the struggle that was the

passion of his life is still to be over.

His people continue to live in poverty and squalor from which only our

united and focused struggle can deliver.lor from which only our

united and focused struggle can deliver.

The youth he led continue to suffer the inequalities and injustices of

apartheid, having no access to quality education and training,

desperately needing jobs and security, a decisive improvement in the

quality of their lives.

For these reasons, we know that his soul continues to enjoin with us in

a fight to accelerate change and build a better life for all.

Comrade Wanga has not died, he lives forever!

In each new house we build, new school we construct, new water pipe we

install, new disadvantaged student who acquires access to higher

education, new job one youth attains, new kwaito or house song one youth

produces, we know that he lives and continues to inspire our forward

march onward ever to a better life for all.

He continues to live and to order us to action!

As the new day rises, and the past surrenders to the future like the

morning dew bows down succumbing to the new sun, we know that we shall

be victorious; that the cause of his people shall triumph!

As you instructed, dear brother leader, we shall struggle hard to give

the final push to the remaining bastions of racism and sexism, to

accelerate change and to build a better life for all.

As you ordered, we shall build a strong ANC and youth movement, and

shall spare no effort to champion the rights and interests of the youth

of South Africa while always reminding them of their responsi South Africa while always reminding them of their responsibilities

and obligations to the nation.

As you commanded, we shall always remain an organisation of the poor,

championing their interests and striving for their full and genuine

social emancipation.

As you loved them, we too shall open our hearts to your family and love

them as our family, because in being part of our struggle, you enjoined

them with us and us with them.

We are forever grateful to the Sigila family for having given birth to a

hero, for nurturing him and for releasing him to us with open hearts and

clear heads to serve and lead us to his final days.

Your tears are ours today, your grief and sorrow is ours.

We ask you, however, to listen to his eulogies, to feel your hearts with

pride and happiness and to release him freely for he had served his full

course - you gave birth to a hero of the people!

Now, he has joined the rich galaxy of African freedom fighters which

includes Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Dr. John Dube, Bra Chris

Hani, Lilian Ngoyi, Anton Lembede, Basil February and, recently, Mwalimu

Kambarage Nyerere.

We deep our banner and pay ever-lasting tribute to these pioneers of

freedom.

When they ask you, Comrade Wanga, to report to them what Africa was like

as you left it, please tell them that Africa lives, Africa strives for

her renaissance to give meaning to their aspirations, and Africa shall

claim the next meaning to their aspirations, and Africa shall

claim the next century as an African century.

About the ANC, please report to them that the ANC lives and the ANC

continues to lead the fight of the people of South Africa!

Report to them that despite its hurdles, the youth of South Africa shall

rise to their challenge and fulfil their mission. Like heroic

generations before it, this shall also claim a place of pride in the

history of their country and continent.

There can be no doubt that the gods are smiling at you!

We still expected that you would be with us during the entire course of

this journey towards our national and continental renaissance.

Well, as the English Governor says to King Henry V of England,

Our expectation hath this day an end.

Farewell dear Comrade, Brother and Leader; rest in peace!

Thank you!

peace!

Thank you!