Mama Agnes Msimang laid to rest

Friday, October 26, 2018

Struggle heroine and former ambassador Mama Agnes Msimang has been laid to rest in an official funeral.

Mama Msimang, who passed away at age 89 at a Johannesburg hospital last Thursday, was buried at the Fourways Memorial Park Cemetery. She was a former diplomat, committed gender activist and a heroine of the South African struggle who, together with countless other women, mobilised communities across South Africa against the apartheid system.

Before her burial, her service got underway at the Our Lady of Cedars Catholic Church, Woodmead, where mourners came out in their numbers to pay their last respects.

Also present were fellow struggle heroines such as Sophie De Bruyn, former President Thabo Mbeki and several Cabinet Ministers such as Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

Mourners described Msimang as a surrogate mother to hundreds of ANC activists.  She was remembered for her dedication, humility, noble spirit, empathy for those in distress, patriotism and undying love for the ruling party, the ANC.  

In her eulogy, Mapisa-Nqakula paid tribute to Msimang, saying she taught the younger women in the party dedication and commitment to the liberation struggle.

“The lesson was that the responsibility of the defence of our freedom will fall on the shoulders of only committed carders. After attaining freedom, (our leaders) taught us that we needed to have a never ending link with the people, a commitment that would result in the delivery of good service to our people.”  

Mapisa-Nqakula said Mama Msimang taught them what it means to be a revolutionary.

Despite the sadness, the Minister told the mourners to take comfort in the fact that she was a dedicated, highly moral cadre that never deviated from being a selfless servant of the people.

Recognising her undying commitment to the betterment of the country, government awarded Msimang with the National Order of Luthuli in Silver for her contribution to the fight against the unjust laws of apartheid and for her selfless service to the cause of South Africa's liberation.

She was also the recipient of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s highest accolade, the OR Tambo Lifetime Achievement Ubuntu Award.

Mourners at the funeral remembered the time she spent in exile in Tanzania, India and Zambia.  

A good singer, she also taught children in India how to sing the national anthem, having explained the lyrics to them.

Upon her return, she continued to push for freedom, justice and equality by working with bereaved families and helping destitute youngsters from her own pocket.

Like many of her generation, ANC stalwart Mavuso Msimang said her generation sought and received no reward.

Another family member, Mahlomola Skosana, said the family has learned more about Mama Msimang from the testimonies about her humanity this week.

“As a family, we didn’t know that she kept the suitcase of a deceased comrade for 40 years, trying to locate their family,” he said before thanking the nation for their prayers and condolences.

Mama Msimang was awarded a Special Official Funeral Category 1, which entailed elements of military ceremonial honours.  Special Official Funeral Category 1 is declared, in line with the Presidency’s State, Official and Provincial Official Funeral Policy, for persons of extraordinary credentials specifically designated by the President. -