Remarks by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad at the Memorial Service for the Late Ambassador Mbere, St Albans Anglican Cathedral, Pretoria, 17 July 2003

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 ANC’s 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 and tirelessly.

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 country well.

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 master’s 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 of Massachusetts.

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 management training.

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 Mbere’s 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 Lakes.

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 weekend.

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 Aggrey’s total dedication to the cause of all freedom loving peoples.

Aggrey’s 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 figure.

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 Aggrey’s 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 and dignity."

Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs

Private Bag X152

Pretoria

0001

17 July 2003

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