Tribute by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the Memorial Service of the Late High Commissioner to Austria, Ambassador Alfred Tokollo Moleah, Pretoria, 6 June 2005

Members of the Moleah family
Distinguished Diplomats
Colleagues and Comrades
Ladies and Gentlemen:

On behalf of the Ministry and Department of Foreign Affairs, we are here to pay tribute to Ambassador Alfred Moleah, a dedicated husband and a dutiful father, an outstanding intellectual, a highly sought analyst of international relations, a dear colleague and a widely-respected diplomat, who was abruptly taken away from us while he was in the service of our country.

When he joined us as Ambassador to Austria, he managed to bring together all his previous roles, as he took on the task of informing the international community about South Africa and conveying our foreign policy to the world.

He had continued to be an educator, which was his life-long passion, but now combined this sound intellectual knowledge with political acumen and practical diplomacy. It was a fitting culmination of a distinguished career of someone who all through his life had lived to serve his people.

As an ambassador he served his country well and his passing away is a tragedy; since he still had so much to give and to share his expertise and experiences with new generations.

Prior to his acceptance of the post as High Commissioner, Ambassador Moleah had already had a long and illustrious career as an academic both in exile in the United States and later in South Africa.

But he was not an ordinary academic locked up in an ivory tower. For him, scholarship was not simply a way of earning a living, but a way of transforming society. Education for him was about the practice of freedom; and as an intellectual he sought to remain true to the struggle for freedom not only in South Africa but also in the rest of Africa and the developing world.

He managed to achieve what Paulo Freire has called "the humanization of the intellectual." He reminds us, in the words of Richard Schaull (in his introduction to Freire's book):

"There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system, or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women participate in the transformation of the world."

Indeed, for Ambassador Moleah, his mission in life was to contribute to how men and women participate in the transformation of the world. In this way, he had begun through his work to shape the future - education was no longer simply a means of reproducing old ideas into a new generation. Education had become a means of achieving justice and bringing about a more just, more peaceful and more egalitarian world.

He understood his role in the same way as Edward Said describes the intellectual as one of "representing the collective suffering" of our people, "reasserting its enduring presence" and "reinforcing its memory."

Through the dark days of apartheid and during his many years in exile, he continued to keep the dream of a free South Africa burning brightly and at conferences around the world and on public platforms where he continued to remind the world of the extent of the suffering of our people and of what needed to be done for South Africa to be free.

Ambassador Moleah was the kind on intellectual described by Said when he writes that:

"for the intellectual, " the task" is explicitly to universalize the crisis, to give great human scope to what a particular race or nation suffered, to associate that experience with the sufferings of others."

Therefore, not surprisingly, Ambassador Moleah's writings were not localized or parochial. He wrote books on Namibia, on human rights and had publications on Pan-Africanism. He made connections between the South African struggle and that of the Palestinian people.

He inculcated the readers of his books with a more profound political consciousness of the realities of the world and a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of one people's liberation struggle with another. In this way, he also succeeded in fulfilling the role of making the political more pedagogical and the pedagogical more political.

In him, we have lost a great son of our soil who knew the difficulties and the possibilities of bringing about Africa's renewal. He knew full well that we would only make concrete progress if we took the future into our own hands, both by taking possession of our development agenda and also through finding the means and resources to get to the desired destination.

All through his life, he guarded against ill-discipline and laziness and was committed to excellence. He was a true professional even in his searching for truths about ourselves. He devoted his energies and intellects to bringing about a better South Africa with a more productive people committed to change.

We embrace the rich intellectual legacy he has left us and we shall continue along this collective journey towards the full attainment of our freedom which he has helped to reveal and to shape.

We wish the Moleah family strength as you come to terms with your loss.

We share your pain at this untimely parting and we truly hope that with the passing of time you can begin to come to terms with your loss.

May you take comfort from the fact that your late husband and father and brother to us all made an immense contribution to African intellectual life and to projecting South Africa's image to the world.

We shall all walk tall because we walk in the footsteps of intellectual giants such as Alfred Moleah.

Ambassador Moleah lives on in your memory through your recollections of the time that you spent together as a family. But he will also be remembered in the collective memory of our nation as a whole.

We honour your husband and father for his contribution in bringing us so far on this journey.

On behalf of my Ministry and the Department of Foreign Affairs, I would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to the Moleah family, especially to Thabisile and to the children, Thandeka, Modise, Buyelang and Mosupatsela.

As Ambassador Moleah joins the ranks of our departed warriors, we pledge to continue his good work, to shape the practice of freedom and to make our shared dreams for the transformation of the world come true.

Lala ngoxolo qabane

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