• The Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu Nation & Monarch, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and the Family;
• The Queen Mother and members of the Gwabeni Royal House;
• Amakhosi;
• Our Religious and Spiritual Leaders;
• His Worship Cllr A.T. Ntuli Mayor of King Cetshwayo District Municipality;
• Honourable Members of the National Assembly; NCOP, Legislatures;
• His Worship Cllr X. Ngwezi Mayor of the City of uMhlathuze;
• His Worship Cllr X. M. Bhengu Mayor of uMfolozi Local Municipality;
• His Worship Cllr I.J. Naidoo;
• President of the IFP, Inkosi Velenkosini Hlabisa and other leaders present;
• Pastor T. Moodley;
• Speaker of King Cetshwayo District Municipality.

It is with a sense of profound appreciation that we thank the King Cetshwayo District Municipality for hosting us and honouring the work and leadership role of Prince Mongosuthu Buthelezi.

Shenge, today we have a chance, as your children and as the children of your example, to pause in emulation of your great works and to give thanks to you for the opportunities you have given us to make our own humble contributions to the ongoing struggle for the upliftment of the people.

As we march together, side-by-side, in the construction of our constitutional democracy, the enduring debt we owe to you and your generation who have mentored us can, often times, appear distant.

Being so inspired with the spirit that you pioneered and so intent on continuing the struggles that you led, we need to be reminded, at regular intervals, to pause, and to give thanks to the elders of the struggle.

Together with your peers, you stood at the helm of ordinary men and women who waged relentless struggles against colonialism and apartheid. Men and women who understood only too well that there would be no reward exclusive to themselves except that the principles they held dear would be realized in practice.

Philosophers define freedom as recognition of necessity. Hence even the attainment of freedom, so hard won, reveals the prospect of further struggle to defeat the stubborn scourge of disease, ignorance and poverty, which continue to blight our land.

As we pursue these objectives we are privileged, Shenge, to have you within our ranks, to work with your guidance, to have the burden of struggle lightened by the inspiration of your example. Indeed, we are privileged to have you Shenge, within our ranks and this alone may be said; and I say it with the most entire conviction of its truth.

You are a man of many parts, capable of answering the multifaceted demands of life.

Like an aquifer in a land scarce of reason, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi is a bedrock of South Africa’s history and journey to democracy, laden with sense and time-honoured insight.

This poise, certainly is a rare and prized quality from a leader who neither takes for granted his duties to the people and the nation, nor laments over his endurance in the ongoing struggle for a just and democratic society —such patience and perseverance that has come at a premium.

No matter the ripeness of age, we are often able to be clearheaded and sure about the meaning of aspects of our lives, only because we can rely on the memory of others.

And, it is within the moments of despair and loss; the moments of solidarity and success; and the moments of our collective commitment, that we may compile and accumulate the memories that define our historical mission. For Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his peers, as it should be for all of us, the price of freedom is not a distant memory but most definitely an activity of eternal vigilance.

Gathered here today, we may assert that this ongoing watch over the liberties of humankind, becomes an ever-expanding machine of memory. But, how do we fuel the engine of the mind to keep remembering and, more so, to sift through the rubble of the past so that we may continue to learn from each other?

For it is within these privileged moments to pay tribute to active leaders, that we gain strength and purpose of memory and of community — where learning is a monument. Monuments of shared hope, monuments of goodwill, monuments that acknowledge the courage and conviction of a leader such as Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi for the past three scores plus ten years.

The Bible tells us that any years beyond three scores plus ten are bonus years.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

As the Founder and Leader of Inkatha Cultural Liberation Movement (Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe) (Later formed into a political Party, Inkatha Freedom Party) from 1975 to the present; both Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the IFP, have been a key and vibrant part of the evolving history of our nation in remarkable ways for the past forty eight years.

In my message of support on the occasion of the IFP’s 40th Anniversary, on 10 June 2015, in part I shared the following:

“The leadership of ANC understood that the homelands were not the creation of our people; these were created by apartheid in its endeavour to divide the people and balkanise the country. And so the leadership approached the key figures in all communities in the homelands and asked them to utilise the political space available to them to preach the message of the unity of the African people. Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi was one of those who consistently adhered to that directive.

Yes, while it is true that tactical differences did emerge between Inkatha and the ANC, specifically around economic sanctions and the armed struggle — which led to a great loss of life— we are glad to note, with hindsight, that, that, as they say, is history. Things have changed; we have moved on and that which set us apart has disappeared like a morning mist.

In this regard, our specific points of difference no longer exist because the choices to which they applied do no longer exist; nor will they ever exist again quite the same way.”

Even in his capacity as the President of the IFP, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi remained a loyal associate member of the ANC — to him this posed no contradiction. He took every opportunity to engage with ANC programmes and in fact he never missed any major event of the ANC.

To cite a few examples:

  • He would be there at the funeral of Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe President Oliver Reginald Tambo and the unveiling of OR Tambo’s tombstone;
  • He would be there at the funeral of Comrade Cleopas Nsibande;
  • He would be there at the funeral of Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe Walter Sisulu;
  • He would be there at the Funeral of Comrade Joe Mathews, who also served in the leadership council of the IFP;
  • He would be there at the Funeral of Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe President Nelson Mandela;
  • He would be there to pay tribute to Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe Andrew Mlangeni with whom he served in the National Assembly;
  • He would be there at the launch of the ANC booklet entitled “Legacy of Freedom” containing the ANC 1923 Bill of Rights; 1943 Africans Claims and the 1955 Freedom Charter.

When I had the privilege and honour of serving as the ANC Secretary General, in 2007 we took the decision to commemorate the 40th year after Chief Albert Luthuli’s passing, and we had agreed to compile a special edition for the ANC official publication entitled, UMRABULO.

As the SG, I invited a number of leaders to contribute to this special edition.

Shenge was one of a select group of prominent South Africans who were asked to pay tribute to Chief Luthuli and Shenge’s tribute was printed in the publication alongside those of:

  • President Nelson Mandela’s tribute entitled: “We stand on the shoulders of giants”
  • Dr Albertinah Luthuli’s tribute entitled: “Devoted heart and soul to the service of his community”
  • Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s tribute entitled: “A man of destiny and vision”
  • Nadine Gordimer’s tribute entitled: “The man simply known as Chief”
  • President Jacob Zuma’s tribute entitled: “A visionary, a man of peace and a unifier”
  • Phyllis Naidoo’s tribute entitled: “Freedom for his people was the only reward Baba sought”
  • President Thabo Mbeki’s tribute entitled: “A love of humanity”
  • Nkosi Patekile Holomisa’s tribute entitled: “A chief is primarily a servant of the people”
  • Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s tribute entitled: “A person of immense dignity and noble bearing”
  • Major General Sandile Sijake’s (retired) tribute entitled: “A life dedicated to mother Africa”
  • Sibusiso Ndebele’s tribute entitled: “We are the children of Luthuli”
  • Dr. Mathole Motshekga’s tribute entitled: “Master architect of non-racialism”

In his tribute to Chief Albert Luthuli, cited above, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the following, in part:

“(I)nkosi Luthuli’s death did not herald the end of his guiding presence in South Africa nor in my life.

When confronted with difficult decisions for myself, my party, my people, and our country, I often ask myself: What would Inkosi Luthuli had advised me to do. He has remained my mentor long after his death.

I remember how Inkosi Luthuli often told me to recognise right from wrong by asking myself what would be good or bad for the poorest of the poor in my community, and for their children and grandchildren. This elegantly simple, yet profound benchmark, has guided me ever since.

I do so wish this truth could be embraced by everyone who wields power.”

It was Benjamin Franklin who once said:

“[N]early all men can stand adversity, but if you want to know the true character of a man, give him power”.

This reflection by Prince Mongosuthu Buthelezi on the life of Chief Albert Luthuli together with my reflection on the life of Prince Mongosuthu Buthelezi, are a double mirror in which we look at ourselves to see whether we measure up to the bar of integrity, honesty and uprightness or not.

Today, South Africa is a democracy that requires the eternal vigilance as displayed by the enduring work and spirit of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi to attain the ideals of democracy for common benefit.

And, in order for this democratic journey of our country to grow from strength-to-strength, it will take not only the watchful eye of all people, but also the power of memory and the moments we take to reflect on the lives of those who devoted their entire lives to this shared destiny.

Our country faces complex challenges of varying magnitude, however, with the unveiling of this marvellous statue and the renaming of this building as a symbol of the potential for all citizens to play a significant role in the evolution of our system of democracy, we can be confident that the inspiration of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi may ensure that our country continues to develop into a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous nation.

Shenge, from your deep well of knowledge and experience, it is only for us to gain as we plunge into the many lessons we have to learn from your extraordinary life and contributions.

My wife Gugu and I, have fondest memories together with you, and like others, we are sincerely touched by your benevolence and goodwill.

With gratitude and elation, we happily join this unveiling and renaming celebration with you, your family, colleagues, friends and comrades.

Once again, many thanks to the District Municipality for affording us this opportunity to convey our appreciation and thanks to our elder and leader.

I thank you.