FUNERAL SERVICE FOR THE LATE MS NOMUSA SEIPATI NGAKANE

MESSAGE OF CONDOLENCES BY

PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP

FRIEND OF THE LUTHULI FAMILY
INKOSI OF THE BUTHELEZI CLAN
TRADITIONAL PRIME MINISTER TO THE ZULU MONARCH AND NATION
AND PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY

Groutville Congregational Church

10 July 2019

As Christ shared the last supper with His disciples, He said to them, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn… You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy… I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John chapter 16, verses 20 and 22)

These words are infinitely comforting as we lay to rest a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and friend.

Ms Nomusa Seipati Ngakane led a remarkable life. Her great journey will be remembered by her family and friends. But more than anything, we will remember her spirit.

I have never met a more boundless spirit of joy. In this last chapter of her life as she was confined to a wheelchair, Nomusa was not confined at all. In her mind, in her speech and in her generosity of spirit, she was absolutely free. I loved her for her ability to express so much enthusiasm for life, even when life was difficult.

I am humbled today to pay tribute to Nomusa and to express my condolences to her mother, Dr Albertina Luthuli, to her twin sister and their siblings, and to her children and grandchildren.

Nomusa was a dear friend. Considering that she was so much younger than me, and considering that her grandfather, Inkosi Albert Luthuli, was my mentor, I thought of her as my granddaughter. Yet whenever she referred to me, she called me her friend.

As I stand here today, I cannot help but remember her grandfather’s funeral, where I delivered the oration. When her grandmother, Mrs Nokukhanya Luthuli, passed away in December 1996, I spoke at her funeral as well. It is not so long ago that we were here to bury the mortal remains of one of the siblings of Dr Albertina Luthuli, Mrs Thembekile Luthuli-Ngobese.

Anyone would have thought that Dr Albertina Luthuli would precede her daughter. That is the natural course of things. But how often have I seen the natural order disrupted. I have buried five of my own children. I have drunk from this cup of loss many times before. So I understand my friend’s grief. One expects your children to bury you. Burying a child is unbearably painful.

So let us honour her memory.

Nomusa was the product of two outstanding medicos and political activists. Growing up in Durban, her father, Dr Pascal Ngakane, was often detained and her family harassed. Even after Inkosi Albert Luthuli died, Dr Ngakane was detained for long periods of time, and his wife and children endured trauma that no mother or child should ever endure.

Knowing that this could not continue, the family left by ship for England. There, they were often in the Tambo’s house in London as Dr Albertina and Dr Pascal attended meetings of the ANC. But the warmer climate of home kept calling, and when Nomusa was in high school the family returned to live in exile in Lesotho.

By the time she was an adult, Nomusa had lived in Britain, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Canada. She had mastered two new languages, and had been stateless for eleven years. Finally, in 1989, she came home to South Africa. This was, though, at the height of violence and political transition.

Fortunately, she was not alone, for her father was working as Deputy Director of Alexandra Clinic. Within a few years her mother returned to South Africa as well, settling in Stanger with Ma Nokukhanya Luthuli; who was grateful to have her family close once again. I too was pleased that Inkosi Luthuli’s family was coming home.

In our many conversations it was clear to me that politics and activism were a natural part of Nomusa’s life. She went from playing in the Tambo’s London home as a child, to sharing her home in Marondella with a constant stream of activists who came to Zimbabwe to be treated by Dr Albertina Luthuli.

Dr Albertina’s skill was much admired. Her intelligence was already well known at Adams College when we attended school together. Her father had taught at Adams College and it was there that he met his beloved wife.

Mrs Nokukhanya Luthuli was an exceptional woman. I remember so clearly our visit to Maseru when the Organisation for African Unity bestowed a posthumous award on her husband. She asked me to accompany her and to receive the award on behalf of Inkosi Albert Luthuli.

When I think of the Luthuli family, so many memories come flooding back. It is heart breaking to say farewell to Nomusa Seipati Ngakane. May the Lord comfort us in our grief as we await that future promise of joy.

Until then, may this beautiful spirit rest in peace.