Remarks by Deputy Minister
Aziz Pahad at the Memorial Service for the Late Ambassador
Mbere, St Albans Anglican Cathedral, Pretoria, 17 July
Master of Ceremony
Members of the Mbere family
Leaders of the ANC
Mayor of Tshwane
Distinguished friends and colleagues
We have come together not to mourn the death of Ambassador
Mbere, but to celebrate the life of an outstanding patriot
whose whole life was unconditionally and totally dedicated
to the struggle of the people.
Aggrey was a man who devoted all his adult life to
the cause which was dear to him above all others, the
cause of a better life for all our people.
We have gathered to stretch a collective hand of comfort
to the Mbere family, like we have done to many of our
patriots, who are no more! His life is a tapestry of
the ANCs struggle against racism and oppression.
Aggrey was a man with considerable talents as a thinker,
organiser and eloquent public speaker. He had clarity
of thought and used these gifts unselfishly to enrich
a movement and a struggle towards whose growth and development
he made a lasting contribution.
He pursued the objectives of our movement relentlessly
The glorious lives of veterans such as Aggrey must
continue to inspire us all, especially the youth. Their
commitment to dignity and freedom drove them, and they
never asked what the movement or country can do for
them, but what they can do for the movement, the people
and the country.
The vision that drove our founding fathers and veterans
must underpin all our activities. We must never forget
where we came from and what we seek to achieve. In the
final analysis we are the servants of the people and
everything we do must seek to improve the quality of
life of all our people.
Ambassador Mbere was a distinguished scholar, administrator
and Ambassador, and above all, a man who served his
Dr Mbere was born at the advent of the 2nd World War,
perhaps an omen of the turbulent times to come, in which
he would serve his people and country so well.
Ambassador Mbere was a distinguished scholar who held
advanced degrees from prestigious universities abroad,
inter alia, a masters degree from Cornell, and
a PhD from Harvard in Education Policy and Administration.
Dr Mbere would go on to hold post-doctoral fellowships
at Northeastern University as well as the University
During his time in exile in the United States, Dr Mbere
was very active in organisations such as the Boston
Chapter of the ANC, the Anti-Apartheid Movement as well
as Trans-Africa, during the time of the struggle. Whilst
in exile, he was consistently requested to speak on
topical issues pertaining to the anti-apartheid struggle
and the international resistance against the apartheid
system. He received several distinguished awards from,
inter alia, the African Meeting House in Massachusetts
as well as from the City of Boston.
Upon returning to South Africa he, as always, made
his intellect and ability available to the country by
serving with the US Agency for International Development
in the Higher Education Sector as well as the Human
Resource Development Division between 1993 and 1995.
As Project Development Officer, he provided technical
and professional training assistance to historically
disadvantaged universities and technikons in the critical
areas of policy analysis and strategic planning.
After this, Ambassador Mbere served as Deputy Director
General in the Public Service Commission, inter lia,
also as Head of the South African Management and Development
Institute (SAMDI), rendering valuable service in providing
Ambassador Mbere provided valued, transformative leadership
during his service with the Public Service Commission,
in areas such as strategic management, operational efficiency
and service delivery.
Aggrey wrote several papers and publications covering
a broad spectrum of subjects such as Black Education
in South Africa, the Political Economy of Apartheid
and in later years, Training in the Public Sector and
the African Renaissance.
He also offered consultancy to a number of South African
companies, with the aim of empowering people in competence
and supporting entrepreneurial businesses.
The Department of Foreign Affairs was fortunate enough
to acquire Ambassador Mberes service in 2001,
when he took up the position of Ambassador in Kigali,
Rwanda, and in 2002 he was accredited to Burundi on
a non-residential basis. These two countries form a
crucially-important part of the dynamics of the Great
Once again Ambassador Mbere unstintingly gave invaluable
service, insight and leadership, and was much respected
for his admirable qualities as a diplomat and person.
Faithful to his country to the very end, Ambassador
Mbere sadly passed away at his post in Rwanda this past
He leaves us, happy in the knowledge that despite many
challenges, problems and difficulties Africa is making
progress in tackling its underdevelopment and conflicts.
Those of us who had the privilege of working with Aggrey
have gained immeasurably by his experiences. In the
arduous days which lie ahead, we know that we will find
added inspiration in Aggreys total dedication
to the cause of all freedom loving peoples.
Aggreys personal warmth, humanity and charm will
ever remain fresh in our minds. We shall forever be
inspired by his example as a comrade and a great political
As President Mbeki said: "People of our land,
do not mourn. Let us walk together in peaceful silence
of the dead, of the warriors and patriots who live,
though they are not with us. Let us all walk in silent
deference and preparation for the quiet of their graves.
Our voices will be still because the founding human
rites of passage, are an occasion to honour our renewable
and everlasting gift of soldiers who are prepared to
offer their lives as a sacrament for peace.
We join people in the length and breadth of our country
in expressing heartfelt condolences to Aggreys
family, friends and colleagues. The greatest tribute
that we can pay to Aggrey is to contribute to ensure
that SA is a winning nation, and that our vision of
an African Renaissance becomes a reality through concrete
action. We must achieve what Patrice Lumumba wrote in
his last letter:
"History will one day have its say. It will not
be the history taught in the UN, Washington, Paris or
Brussels, but however, the history taught in the countries
that have rid themselves of colonialism and its puppets."
AFRICA WILL WRITE ITS OWN HISTORY, and both north and
south of the Sahara will be a history full of glory
Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
17 July 2003