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,

Distinguished Guests,

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 Africa’s 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 people.

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 best.

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 Africa’s 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 baffled,
Here marching, ever marching on, a war fight out--aye here,
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 years ago:

"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 well-led.

We thank you for sharing his life with us, for giving him to our nation, which he served so selflessly and so well.

I thank you.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853.

Department of Foreign Affairs

Private Bag X152



20 February 2004

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