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