Tribute by the Deputy Minister of Foreign
Affairs , Aziz Pahad, at the Memorial Service for the
Late Ambassador Sipho Makana, Pretoria 20 February 2004
Director of Ceremonies,
The Mayor of the City of Tshwane,
Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners
accredited to South Africa,
Your Excellencies, South African Ambassadors and High
Commissioners to various countries,
Comrades and Friends:
We gather here today to pay tribute to a great comrade
and friend who served our people and country well.
From the darkest and coldest days of apartheid to the
warm and eternal bright summer of liberation, Ambassador
Makana selflessly devoted his life to the freedom struggle.
He was driven by the believe that we would experience
the fruits of our labour and that freedom would bloom
in our lifetime.
He believed that the greater good of our people came
before personal gain and that his mission as our representative
in the world was to ensure that South Africas
voice would be heard in the international arena so that
the African agenda for change could be understood and
embraced by all.
All through his life, he strove to make South Africa
a better place for all who live in it. From humble beginnings
in the Eastern Cape, he matured to be among the leadership
of our movement who would walk tall in the world in
pursuit of our collective dream of freedom.
When he went into exile, he studied economics so that
he could fully understand the South African reality
and what needed to be done to create a free country
of productive people. His hard work in the African National
Congress took him from Moscow to Morogoro to Lusaka
and back to Moscow and the posts that he held demonstrated
his acumen and excellence in matters of intelligence
and his skills in diplomacy. Thus, after our first democratic
elections in 1994, he continued to serve the South African
His skills as a diplomat and a democrat prevailed.
He was appointed Ambassador to the Russian Federation
by President Nelson Mandela in 1996 and as our Ambassador
to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam by President Thabo
Mbeki in 2003.
In this way, he participated in the making and shaping
of South African foreign policy and he represented the
interests of South Africa abroad at crucial times, firstly
as we re-connected and re-established ourselves in the
world and secondly, as we entered the critical phase
of implementation of the African renaissance.
He was a thinker and a democrat. He was analytical
and disciplined. He represented the best that South
Africa could offer to the world as a true patriot and
spokesperson of the needs of our nation, our people
and our continent.
May his life be remembered by all and may his story
be transmitted to future generations, so that they know
not only that we suffered, but that we did what we had
to do and even what we thought was impossible to do,
precisely to overcoming suffering and oppression, so
that they know that no situation can be so bleak as
to prevent progress and success. No situation can be
so difficult as to prevent us from striving for the
Ambassador Makana was confident about our collective
success and he knew that we had to do the impossible
and act decisively and against all odds to create a
better life for South Africas people. In a world
plagued by racism, disparities in wealth, pockets of
wealth and development in a sea of poverty and underdevelopment,
he knew that our efforts for a non-racial, non-sexist
and democratic South Africa was also what we wanted
for the people of the world. He was a revolutionary,
nationalist and internationalist.
Ambassador Makana has left our midst still serving
his country and his people, still confident of the bright
future that we are building together and will continue
to construct in the next decade to come.
The American poet, Walt Whitman, in his poem, Adieu
to a Soldier, writes:
Adieu dear comrade,
Your mission is fulfill'd--but I, more warlike,
Myself and this contentious soul of mine,
Still on our own campaigning bound,
Through untried roads with ambushes opponents lined,
Through many a sharp defeat and many a crisis, often
Here marching, ever marching on, a war fight out--aye
To fiercer, weightier battles give expression.
As the poet tells us, that although a dear soldier,
comrade, ambassador, friend, has left our midst, the
onus is on those who remain, our present generation,
to continue to explore the "untried roads"
that await us and to know what battles lie ahead.
Certainly, in an age of globalisation, many challenges
await, but we are stronger and more determined than
ever before to pursue the path that comrades like Ambassador
Makana had walked before us. They have warned us of
the pitfalls that lie ahead and have shown us the way
to our freedom.
As President Mbeki said at his Inaugural Address five
"Those who complete the course will do so only
because they do not, as fatigue sets in, convince themselves
that the road ahead is still too long, the inclines
too steep, the loneliness impossible to bear and the
prize itself of doubtful value.
We too, as the peoples of South Africa and Africa,
must together run our own Comrades Marathon, as comrades
who are ready to take to the road together, refusing
to be discouraged by the recognition that the road is
very long, the inclines very steep and that, at times,
what we see as the end is but a mirage.
When the race is run, all humanity and ourselves will
acknowledge the fact that we only succeeded because
we succeeded to believe in our own dreams!"
Five years later, the fight against poverty and underdevelopment,
the fight for a more egalitarian world, the fight for
sustained economic and social development and for cultural
freedom compels us to continue our journey to a better
life. Ambassador Makana was an Agent for Change along
this road and because of him and other cadres, we reached
many milestones and celebrated many victories.
10th anniversary of Democracy, 3rd democratic elections
Know where we have come from, where we are going
In memory of Kokhele and of all the others, we must
continue to pursue this path to freedom and our people
who are repositories not of the past but seeds of the
future, will take us to the common destination that
we dream of, where our heritage will grow and flourish
and where our children will flower.
We would like to say to Sennye Nteseng, the wife of
Ambassador Makana and to his three children, that the
life of your beloved husband and father, was a life
We thank you for sharing his life with us, for giving
him to our nation, which he served so selflessly and
I thank you.
Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853.
Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
20 February 2004