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Support for President Jacob Zuma and his corrupt faction is steadily waning within the ANC. Nowhere was this more evident than at the funeral of ANC struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada. Zuma, dogged by corruption allegations, was not welcome at the funeral, while finance minister Pravin Gordhan got a standing ovation for standing his ground against the corrupt. Archbishop Thabo Makgoba highlighted that Kathrada, a Rivonia trialist who spent time on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, fought evil social forces for the benefit of the downtrodden. In this prayer, Makgoba reminded politicians paying their last respects to Kathrada that most South Africans want unity – and that it is time to end the tolerance for those whose lives flourish by drinking the poison of corruption and looting. While many at the funeral may not support Zuma, more could easily be done by those with influence to eject Zuma from power. Instead they have stood by, as votes of no confidence in Parliament have failed and Zuma and his friends continue to get away with ransacking state coffers. Let’s hope Kathrada’s legacy, and Makgoba’s words, will inspire some in government to take a firm stand against the rot that has set in and threatens this fledgling democracy. – Jackie Cameron
From Archbishop Thabo Makgoba*
Let us pray.
Lord, we come to you today to honour a man who believed that vision is the art of seeing things invisible.
Unlike most, his rainbow nation didn’t have seven colours. No, Ahmed Kathrada only saw three, and he named them…his three colours were dignity; equality; and opportunity.
He knew that as a citizen, a patriot and as someone with a profound conscience, he saw what was happening to his South Africa and said “No! Not here! Not now! Not ever again!”
He defined the most important characteristic of the Old Struggle…courage.
Ahmed Kathrada dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and in his last years told me that his heart was breaking because of what was happening to his South Africa.
One of Ahmed’s favourite poets was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
He knew what we need in our South Africa was not the obvious attempt to divide our wonderful nation by those in government who are looting our country; what we need in our South Africa is not hatred; what we need in our South Africa is not violence or lawlessness;…what we need is our South Africa is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another.
He knew that the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our lives, want equality and equal justice for all human beings who abide in our land.
More than anything else, Ahmed Kathrada would want us to dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world.
I remember when I first met Ahmed. It was at that moment I realised that God uses good people to do great things. Ahmed used his life to serve, to serve us all.
So here is a prayer for our country and for our people.
Lord, we all know that we’ve had difficult times in the past. We will have difficult times in the future.
But as you take Ahmed into your home, nothing would displease his soul so much as to see that we have indulged in any small behaviour of inequality, any small act of indignity, or any gesture that contributed to deny South Africans an opportunity for success.
Friends and comrades, Ahmed’s light was no ordinary light. His light didn’t just illuminate each of us, it illuminated our country. And we have to ask ourselves, how we can continue to carry the legacy of his light forward?.
How can we honour him, honour the country he fought for and honour his rainbow nation…how do we keep his light burning?
A man of simplicity, one of his last wishes was equally quite simple. He said:
“It is time to end our tolerance for those who lives flourish by drinking the poison of corruption and looting.
It is time to end our tolerance for those who are mindlessly indifferent to our constitution.
It is time to end our tolerance for those who wilfully deny our country of the equality of opportunity.”
We are at the crossroads.
For some of us, time will run out before we really engage to see our lives flourish in its second half.
But for the majority of us, those who want a different South Africa, those like Ahmed Kathrada, who gave the very essence of his soul for a democratic South Africa…
We can do better! We must do better! We will do better!
Dr. Ahmed Kathrada will be remembered as a remarkable personality, whose life was devoted to creating a just & equal society. RIP.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 28, 2017
Let Ahmed be your light. Let Ahmed’s spirit be your courage.
He didn’t want a South Africa of ‘either-or’.
Dignity, equality and opportunity belong to all people, everywhere, all the time.
And those of us who gather here, whether you are a president, elected official, those of us who run great companies, who know something about being parents, who know something about being preachers and teachers — those of us, we owe something from this minute on; so that this gathering is not just another footnote on the pages of history. We owe something. We owe something to Ahmed Kathrada.
God bless the soul of Ahmed Kathrada. God bless the memory of Ahmed Kathrada. And God bless you, your family and God bless our South Africa.
- Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is head of the Anglican Church in South Africa.
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