President Cyril Ramaphosa says the struggle for which the late former Ambassador Billy Modise dedicated his life to, continues.
“It is a struggle against hunger and homelessness, against violence and abuse, against severe inequality and chronic unemployment.
“It is a struggle for decent education and relevant skills, for affordable healthcare, a living wage, decent jobs, land, houses, water and electricity. It is a struggle for unity, non-racialism and non-sexism, for dignity, respect and peace,” he said while delivering the eulogy at the late Modise’s funeral.
He described Uncle Modise as a man of honesty and decency, someone who was kind and warm towards everyone no matter their background.
“We are drawn to this place as we were drawn to Uncle Billy because he was an easily approachable human being with such a cheerful and invigorating presence,” President Ramaphosa said.
He said people saw in him the qualities that they seek and found in him the human being that each dearly want to become.
“He taught us that no life could be complete if it was not lived in the service of others,” he said.
Last Thursday, President Ramaphosa announced the sad news of the passing of former ambassador and ANC veteran. He announced that he would be afforded a Special Official Funeral category 1.
Modise served as the country’s first black High Commissioner to Canada and was also the former Chief of State Protocol and a recipient of the National Order of Luthuli.
Billy Modise was born in Bloemfontein, in the then Orange Free State, on 8 December 1930. He grew up in a heightened political environment. He received an Anglican scholarship to attend secondary school in Modderport.
Between 1950 and 1954, he worked at a wholesale store and for a medical doctor in order to raise money for his university studies. In January 1955, he enrolled at the University of Fort Hare to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree.
President Ramaphosa said from his earliest experiences of the indignity and injustice of racial discrimination, Uncle Billy was driven by a profound concern for the plight of the oppressed, vulnerable, poor and exploited.
“Measured in his delivery, clear in his articulation, passionate in his conviction, Billy Modise carried the message of our liberation struggle across the world,” the President said.
Modise’s daughter, Thandi, remembered her father as kind and a loving man.
“Although he spent most of the time away from home, we felt his absent, when he was home, his presence was felt by all,” she said.
Former President Thabo Mbeki remembered Modise as an intelligent man who was always willing to contribute to the wellbeing of others.
“We always needed him to assist, to contribute with his ideas,” he said.
Namibian vice President Nangolo Mbumba said they were shattered upon hearing that Modise had passed on.
“Billy was a good teacher, we never forget our friends, we never forget our comrades,” he said, thanking the ANC for borrowing them Billy.
The funeral service was attended by among others, politicians, senior government officials and Ambassadors and government officials from other countries. – SAnews.gov.za