President of the Republic, Mr JG Zuma
Mgojo family members
Mama MaMbhele and brothers and sisters
Archbishop Emeritus Tutu
Bishop of the Methodist Church
Bishop Nzimande, Rev Dr Dandala, Bishops and leaders in Faith from various denominations and churches
Mongameli webandla Baba Dlamini and all the clergy
Leaders from Hindu, Islamic, Jewish and many other different faiths
Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Members of our Executive of KwaZulu-Natal
Members of Parliament present
Leaders of the African National Congress, IFP, DA, NFP, MF, ACDP,COPE and all Political Parties and organs of civil society
Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
Members of the media.
The words that best describe the life and times of Dr Mgojo are written in the book
2 Timothy Chapter 4 Verse 7 and read as follows: ".....I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith...."
Friends, comrades and dear compatriots
The great tree has fallen!
We are not here to mourn the passing on of Dr Mgojo, but we have come to pay tribute to a great Son of Africa who was not only a great thinker, but was
A respected scholar in biblical languages and theology
An intellectual of high calibre
A great teacher
And above all, a humble man of God and a deep Believer in Christ!
We wish to convey our gratitude to His Excellency President Jacob G Zuma for declaring this a Special Provincial Official Funeral to symbolise the greatest honour we could bestow over a great leader of our people on his last days on earth.
Dr Mgojo deserves every honour and praise that has been showered on his mortal life.
We also accept that as verse 8 on the above chapter states, for him "there is in store a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award him."
Today South Africa, and the Province of KwaZulu-Natal in particular, is experiencing once again the pain of losing a leader of stature, a man who has made valuable contribution not only to his own local community but to the whole country.
Over the past few days since the passing on of Rev Mgojo, we have all heard and read from the news media accounts of his life achievements and numerous awards and accolades. Indeed, Rev Mgojo was a remarkable man, who throughout his adult life made outstanding achievements in disparate fields which would ordinarily never be combined in the career of one person.
Dr Khoza Mgojo dedicated his entire life to serving Christ. He was well known for his inspirational and uplifting sermons. A great philosopher and brilliant teacher of theology who taught his students to be open-minded critical analysts and thinkers, as well as being an efficient administrator who had served in various institutions with distinction.
His compassion for the poor and the downtrodden resonated well with his deep faith in God and led to a path that confronted realities of racial discrimination, the fallacy of racial supremacy, inequality, oppression and the brutalities of apartheid. His forthrightness, courage and outspoken criticism against apartheid as he fought for peace, justice, equality and democracy, became a threat to those in authority at the time. He was targeted, harassed and victimised by the agents of the apartheid state.
He came to Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, after having been expelled together with the Federal Theological Seminary (Fedsem) of which he was President by then Chief Minister of the Transkei Bantustan in 1975.
Originally situated in Alice in the Eastern Cape, the Fedsem was expelled by the apartheid system from its original site – where it had been established in 1962 – following allegations of “fermenting” protests at its neighbour, the University of Fort Hare in 1974. The Fedsem was an inter-denominational seminary which trained Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist ministers.
The institution has been described as a “non-racial, progressive and sometimes provocative institution” for it was always a thorn on the side of the apartheid system and government.
From Umtata, Bishop Dr Mgojo led the seminary to the Edendale Lay Ecumenical Centre in Pietermaritzburg, where it was temporarily housed for the following two years.
While at the Ecumenical Centre, popularly known as the Lay Centre, Dr Mgojo continued with his theological calling and relentless fight against all forms of oppression.
The Lay Centre still exists, and provided a bedrock of social activism while aiding the local community and the greater Edendale area by providing community services such as agricultural training and the otherwise previously unknown fish culture, where the values of self-reliance were inculcated.
Another activity at the Lay Centre was that of the DCO Matiwane Youth Club which had been inspired by the late activist Mr DCO Matiwane who used to hold one-man protests in the city centre of Pietermaritzburg in protest against apartheid atrocities and excesses.
Many of the members of the youth club today form a core of the crop of leadership in all tiers of government, including business, health and several other sectors.
While based in Pietermaritzburg during the height of apartheid, Dr Mgojo worked with prominent activists such as the late Peter Kerchoff, the Rev Professor John Aitchison and his long-time colleague Dr Simon Gqubule and other well-known activists. These leaders distinguished themselves by propagating non-racialism and were fierce critics of discrimination in church and society.
When the Fedsem finally moved to occupy its new premises in Imbali, Dr Mgojo was once again a target of the apartheid regime in the form of vigilantes which supported KwaZulu-Natal Government and the notorious Special Branch, especially as they hosted victims of politically motivated violence from nearby townships.
The Fedsem in Imbali finally succumbed to this relentless pressure and hatred by the apartheid government and was vandalised by locals, and today its shattered walls remain but a sad reminder of the achievements of great men such as Dr Mgojo.
His courage saw Dr Mgojo lead the church to redefine its role as the custodian of the downtrodden and align itself with the daily struggles of our people, as the President of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), leading the church and faith leaders in protest against detention without trial, assassinations by apartheid death squads, and leading devotions in commemoration meetings and conducting rites for victims of state-sponsored massacres.
Armed with the Truth from his mouth and the Bible in his hands, together with other notable leaders such as Bishop Tutu, Rev Allan Boesak, Father S’mangaliso Mkhatshwa and many others, the terrified masters of apartheid were not embarrassed to dispatch security forces armed with automatic rifles and armoured vehicles to arrest the men of God in white collars and cassocks. In trying to justify their actions, the apartheid regime would refer to the SACC as "the African National Congress in prayer."
Dr Mgojo continued to serve in bringing about reconciliation, praying for the victims of trauma and torture and as a Commissioner in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We pay tribute to a great leader and a hero of our people, our spiritual mentor, advisor and a father who cared and guided us. Never shy to call any leader to raise any issue. A champion for development and efficiency in government service delivery, he campaigned successfully for inclusion of uMzimkhulu into KwaZulu-Natal.
Dr Mgojo worked hard to champion the cause of senior citizens, resulting in the creation of a Senior Citizens Program and creation of Senior Citizens Forums in all districts of which he was he Provincial Convenor, voluntarily working in the Office of the Premier. The creation of the Senior Citizen's Parliament was his brainchild. He also campaigned for government activities not to be held during Sunday morning to allow church members to be part of government programmes.
We have lost a statesman!
Dr Mgojo shared a special relationship with Isilo SamaBandla and President JG Zuma - all of whom share a special bond of respect. He was often invited to bless various government functions and events.
He gave support to the exile community and neighbouring countries during the massacres by the apartheid regime, leading church leaders and meeting leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) in exile and giving spiritual support and ministering the bereaved.
He was regarded by the ANC in the province to be ranking among the giants of our struggle of the likes of Dr John Langalibalele Dube and other stalwarts who founded our liberation movement. For this reason, the ANC leadership had named Dr Mgojo the Chief Chaplain of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal in recognition of the spiritual support he has given to many of its leaders on continuous basis.
I personally feel privileged to have grown up in the Pietermaritzburg area under the shadow of his influence and guidance.
Rev Mgojo lived a remarkable life, one that inspired me greatly through his deep faith, uprightness, humility, love, dedication to serving people, his willingness to share his lifelong experience to mentor younger leaders and teach them accountable leadership, his confidence and courage. He was a man of high professionalism and discipline who never demanded more than he was prepared to contribute.
Whenever he was approached by people he always received them with a generous spirit and a charming smile, making us all comfortable in the company of such a towering giant of our times.
Dr Mgojo was a principled man and his word was his honour.
He was patient, and generous with his time and affection.
He was a man of dignity and good humour who always took interest in affairs of people.
The strength of his character showed even in criticism. He was constructive and was always available to provide guidance. He pursued his many endeavours diligently, and always rose to meet the challenge. I always felt that he expected the same from all members of Cabinet and community leaders.
We will miss the warmth he extended to everyone he met. We will miss his wisdom and his fatherly love and support. On behalf of the Government and the people of KwaZulu-Natal we thank and salute him for his contribution in building our nation and our democracy.
As a lasting tribute to Dr Mgojo, we must fight corruption and fight mediocrity to build clean, efficient and accountable government that serves the people with dignity. We must ensure that those who lead our people are leaders with integrity, who place service to our people above their personal interest. We must teach our people that freedom to choose is the right they must use carefully to hold leaders to account. Taking our people out of poverty is the lasting monument that will make those who made sacrifices for freedom to rest in eternal peace. We must build unity of a non-racial and caring nation, a sound economy that creates jobs and taking our people out of poverty. That is the best we can do to honour this great man.
I thank the family and care-givers in the various institutions that cared for Dr Mgojo in his last days and saw to his comfort and relieved his pain and suffering.
Your love for Baba Mgojo was demonstrated by your compassion towards him and the support you gave him in his hour of need--- making him proud to have you as his family.
May God give you the strength to bear the pain and reach deep into your grieving hearts and erase the anguish and make your spirits strong and your faith deeper. May it comfort you to know that we feel the pain of your loss as it is our loss as well. Thank you for sharing his life with us.
May I leave you with the words in a poem written by Dora Leyva entitled:
Letting you go
“If God had let you stay there would be sorrow there would be pain.
We have to let you go to find you peace to ease your pain.
If you knew how much we'd miss you we know you wouldn't go.
Your comfort is what matters and we know you'll be at peace.
Life is not forever and always filled with pain
to find your comfort and live forever we know you had to leave.
Goodbye but not forever for God will bring us close
Then we can be together always and forever and our suffering will end. "
May his soul rest in peace.
Lala ngoxolo Mbuyisa.
Uyibekile induku ebandla!
Province Or State