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SA: Cyril Ramaphosa: Address by South Africa's President, eulogy at the funeral of king Thulare Victor Thulare III of the Bapedi kingdom (17/01/2021)

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SA: Cyril Ramaphosa: Address by South Africa's President, eulogy at the funeral of king Thulare Victor Thulare III of the Bapedi kingdom (17/01/2021)

President Cyril Ramaphosa

18th January 2021

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The Thulare Royal Family
Bakgoma le Bakgomana,
The Queen Mother,
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Ikosi Mahlangu,
Your Majesties, Kings and Queens,
Former Chairpersons of the National House,
Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons of the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders and all traditional leaders attending virtually,
President of Contralesa, Kgoshi Mokoena, and other representatives,
Representatives from other Kingdoms 
Religious Leaders 
Mayors of Sekhukhune District Municipality and Local Municipalities
Leaders of various political parties,
Sechaba sa Bapedi Ka moka,
 
Re a le tamisha, ka manyame a magolo! 
(We greet you in deep pain)
 
It is with a deep sense of grief that we pay our last respects to Kgoshi Thulare Victor Thulare III, the leader of this great Kingdom of the Bapedi people. 
 
After many years of strife, just at the moment when harmony had returned, the Kingdom is once again engulfed by a very dark cloud. 
 
It was not long ago that the nation welcomed the promising reign of a new leader. 
 
The passing of Kgosikgolo Thulare III, who was so youthful, so visionary, so promising, so farsighted and so full of life, has therefore shaken our very being. 
 
We mourn with the royal family and the entire Kingdom over this great loss. 
 
Kgoshi Thulare III hails from an illustrious legion of ancestors, such as Dikgoshi Thulare I, Sekwati I and Sekhukhune I, who fought successive battles in defence of their people in the 19th century.
 
Those who came before him bravely fought against colonialism, the theft of their land and the unjust taxation of their people.
 
It is these gallant fighters who inspired successive generations of activists from this area; women and men who dedicated their lives to the struggle for freedom in this country. 
 
The cadres established Ga-Sekhukhune as a centre for rural resistance over the course of several decades, and earned it a special place in the annals of the struggle for democracy. 
 
In this distinguished cohort, we remember Elias Motsoaledi, John Nkadimeng, Flag Boshielo, Godfrey Pitje and others who mobilised communities in the area against the repressive apartheid policies.
 
The work of these freedom fighters and the influence of Ga-Sekhukhune extended far beyond the boundaries of this area.
 
John Nkadimeng and Flag Boshielo in particular mobilised migrant workers in urban areas, especially on the Witwatersrand. 
 
These workers in turn sowed deep seeds of political consciousness and mass mobilisation back home in the Ga-Sekhukhune area. 
 
Under the banner of organisations such as Sebatakgomo – later Fetakgomo – the people of Ga-Sekhukhune fought against Bantu Authorities and against the so-called Betterment Schemes, which involved cattle culling and curtailment of land.
 
Through the local bodies such as Khuduthamaga, locals mounted a spirited opposition against all forms of injustice imposed by apartheid authorities.
 
It was through the political work of committed cadres such as Peter Nchabeleng that this area became a hive of youth activism in the 1980s.
 
Almost every village in Ga-Sekhukhune had a youth formation during that time, a sign of the determination of the people to fight for their own liberation.  
 
Therefore, Sechaba sa gesho, any rendition of the life of Kgoshikgolo Thulare III would not be complete without appreciating the special place of his Kingdom in the history of the struggle in this country.
 
In his veins, he carried the blood of resistance.
 
His inheritance was one of tireless struggle for justice, equality and freedom.
 
As he is embraced by his distinguished ancestors, on this side we are left weeping.  
 
We are weeping, as Maya Angelou says, for the kind words unsaid, for the long walk of prosperity promised but never taken. 
 
As government, we convey our deepest sympathies to the royal family, the Bapedi Kingdom and the people of this province and country in general for this great loss.
 
May you find peace and calmness in these difficult and unexpected circumstances.
 
May you mourn the King with the serenity and dignity he strove for in his life.
 
 
In recognition of his status in the society, we have accorded King Thulare III a Special Official Funeral Category 1, and ordered that the national flags be flown at half-mast at every station from the 13th of January to this evening, after the burial.
 
While it remains our dearest wish that we could bid farewell to His Majesty in a manner befitting both his status and his person, we are constrained by the coronavirus pandemic that continues to take the lives of our people.
 
It was this pandemic that prevented my planned visit to the King and to the royal household in early January.
 
This visit was to be part of the commemoration of the formation of the African National Congress on 08 January 1912, in which the Kings and Chiefs of this country played such a central part.
 
We have no choice to wait until this storm has passed before we can observe all the protocols and practices that are due to a life so deserving. 
 
The time will come when we will be able to pay proper tribute to our loved ones. 
 
For now, let us be safe and save lives.
 
This pandemic has changed so much in our lives.
 
As we lay His Majesty to rest, the country is in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus infections, far greater and far more destructive than what we experienced before.
 
Many more people are becoming infected and more people are needing medical care.
 
In many parts of the country, our hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed and our health care workers are under severe strain.
 
In this province, infections, hospital admissions and deaths are several times greater and higher than they were in the first wave.
 
And so, we cannot leave this place of sorrow without affirming our determination to overcome this grievous disease.
 
We will and must use every means available to us to save lives and protect livelihoods.
 
We must become even more diligent in observing the various health measures – avoiding closed spaces, crowded places and unnecessary contact with others.
 
In the coming weeks and months, we will begin a mass vaccination programme that is expected to significantly reduce infections as it reaches more and more of our people.
 
We will also increase our efforts to rebuild our economy, restoring the jobs that have been lost and providing support to struggling households.
 
Kgoshikgolo Thulare would have been part of this effort, working in partnership with government, business and unions to bring investment and infrastructure to this area.
 
He would have supported the mass employment programmes that are now rolling out in many parts of the country, providing valuable services to our people.
 
Kgoshi Thulare set out to lead his people on a path to economic prosperity.
 
He brought experts together to chart a new economic path for Ga-Sekhukhune, with a strong focus on youth empowerment.
 
He would say, “I am still youthful, I still have the agility”. 
 
With minerals and other natural resources abundant in his area, he wanted to work with the mining companies to grow the local economy and stem the tide of youth leaving for the cities.
 
He wanted every member of his nation to benefit from all the economic activities and all the opportunities in their area. 
 
He set out on this journey at a difficult time.
 
The effects of the pandemic have placed many businesses under stress – including mines in this area – resulting in job losses and hurting local businesses.
 
It is under these conditions that we must continue his work.
 
Communities rise on the back of their local resources, on their ingenuity and on their hard work, and so must it be for the Bapedi people.
 
At the onset of his reign, he declared himself a sworn enemy of corruption, which he knew deprives his people of the resources that are rightfully theirs.
 
Many of the struggles of the youth in the apartheid era were about how local resources were abused by authorities. 
 
This makes corruption in our municipalities and traditional authorities even more painful. It is an affront to the youth and to the nation at large.
 
Through the King Thulare lll Foundation, His Majesty sought to form strong partnerships to develop the skills among the youth, and to restore the land rights, culture, traditions and heritage of his people.
 
He wanted people to have clean water and other basic services.
 
He wanted his people to live lives free of crime, gender-based violence and corruption.
 
His desire was to be a firm partner to government and an unwavering champion of the needs of his people.
 
Fellow Mourners,
 
We have lost a measured voice of reason, a shining example of traditional leadership. 
 
When he was officially recognised, Kgoshi Thulare shared his aspiration for the peace and unity of his Kingdom, so that they could collectively chart a new path of reconciliation, development and prosperity for the people.
 
In fact even before ascending to the throne, he preached unity, which he said was a fitting gift to the ancestors who bequeathed this generation this vast land.
 
Let his dreams not die with him. 
 
Let us not bury the vision that he had with him.
 
Let the unity that he championed live well beyond his brief but promising reign.
 
May all his economic initiatives be sustained.
 
May they become his legacy, and may they build the just and prosperous Bapedi nation of which he dreamed.
 
Even as the dark clouds have descended on this Kingdom, even as we bear the pain of this great loss, we should not despair and we should not lose hope.
 
As the sun has always risen on the Bapedi, so shall it rise again.
 
A bana ba ga Thulare ka moka ba gomotsege! 
(May all Thulare’s children be comforted)
 
Robala ka khutso, Bauba a Hlabirwa! 
 
I thank you.

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