OPINION: Late former ambassador Lindiwe Mabuza sparkled in all the seasons of our struggle. Every living day with her, be it in person, on the phone, or a message, was an inspirational establishment and accomplishment of impactful rhythm, writes Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
We learnt with great grief and pain about the passing of our beloved sister, comrade, friend, and mentor, uSis Lindiwe. Kindly accept my apology for my absence.
Regrettably, one is unable to physically accompany her to her final resting place as we have a ceremony wokugeza izandla, after the passing of my brother.
While we mourn an accomplished activist, teacher, lecturer, politician, writer, artist and diplomat, we celebrate a life well-lived and in service of the people, nation and the downtrodden of the world.
Thus, since we received the news of Sis Lindiwe’s demise, we have witnessed an international outpouring of grief and consolation. This bears testimony to the international giant Sis Lindi was.
For us, this global grief confirms what we have always known - she was our brightest star, who at times dimmed her light to allow others to shine. She was that star that occupies the tales of most African cultural systems which study the patterns of our skies in the correct belief that they set the rhythm of our daily lives and seasons.
For the Dogon of Mali, it is the constellation of the three Siren Stars. Two of these stars appear every 50 years and the other yet to be accepted by the West appears after every 80 years to the naked eye, despite it being ever-present alongside the other two. It is this star that they believe is the guiding star that led them to their current domiciles.
For the East and Southern Africans, the universe centres in the constellation of stars only seen in the southern hemisphere, which is referred to as the Southern Cross. In the Sotho languages it is called Thuhlo, in Kiswahili it is known as Twiga, and in Nguni languages it is the iNdlulamithi, in reference to its giraffe-like shape.
To us, Sis Lindi was tenfold the power of those constellations. She sparkled in all the seasons of our struggle, ever since our glorious movement went into exile. Every living day with her, be it in person, on the phone, or a message, was an inspirational establishment and accomplishment of impactful rhythm. Akin to the giraffe, her stature and wisdom allowed her to see beyond the often-dark forests of exile, with her eye on the prize of liberation.
Indeed, we have lost a visionary and talented cadre who despite her humility was identified as the brightest of stars by President OR. Consequently, comrade president placed her in the leadership of one of the most delicate missions abroad - to promote the cause of the Mass Democratic Movement in Scandinavia at a time when those nations were best known for their neutrality.
Later in the Women’s Section 1981 Conference, Comrade President OR said: “Comrade Lindiwe Mabuza cried and sobbed and ultimately collapsed on top of herself when she learnt she had been appointed ANC Chief Representative to the Scandinavian countries. But, looking at the record, could any man have done better?”
Certainly, no man could have achieved what she did. Thus knowing that the struggle for liberation could not be won in the absence of the liberation of women, she stood at the forefront of the struggle for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
It was not enough that she was Chief Rep, but she took on the difficult task of lifting many of us along with her in her journey of life. Her arms were ever open and her endless love was so nourishing that it nurtured even the most difficult seedlings.
Sis Lindi would take off even her last jersey from her back to ensure that you are warm, such that in your presence you would truly believe that you were the only apple in her eye. Yet every apple, every seed she nurtured and ever life she touched turned into the proverbial gold. Such that Sis Lindi was a friend to all generations, a character you would have witnessed in her final send-off had it not been the limitations presented by Covid.
Sis Lindi was also a friend to the arts and artists, such that she was the recipient of many honours, including the National Order of Ikhamanga.
Her love for the arts was rooted in her deep spirituality. Consequently, she was able to face all the challenges presented to her by life with that beautiful smile. Even as she battled grave illness her spirituality enabled her to literally lift herself out of bed and continue with the business of life and liberation.
Her spirituality was often expressed in her written works, thus she always encouraged everyone to read and write. Her attention to detail made her a prolific writer and cultural activist. It also made her one of the best diplomats to have been produced by our movement and this nation. Hers was a persuasive and gentle diplomacy which left a lasting impression. Thus the world over is in deep mourning.
Her style of diplomacy is best described as Ubuntu Diplomacy, for she treated all equally and opened her heart, ears, kitchen, home and beautiful wardrobe to everyone. Thus amongst her friends are ordinary village and township folk, as well as presidents, Nobel Peace Prize winners, South African Music Awards winners, and Oscar and Grammy Award nominees.
In life, Sis Lindi’s deeds spoke for themselves. In passing, her legacy shall live in all of us. The footprints and portraits she leaves shall continue to serve as our permanent guiding constellation of stars as we march on to free our people from the yokes of want, poverty, hunger, unemployment and underdevelopment.
Hamba Kahle Mkhonto!!
We will miss that warm smile and morning calls of encouragement. Thank you for being a comrade, friend, sister and tutor. In your honour we shall find ways to lift your name and the valuable lessons you left for us. We and future generations will maintain the sharp dress sense and remain immaculate, as we represent all the ideals you stood for.
We are certain that the famous hug of Comrade President OR awaits to welcome you and we are sure that with you in that galaxy of stars of our heroes, our future shall be ever so bright.
May your soul rest in eternal peace.
* Dlamini Zuma is Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.