Thursday, 19 July 2012

It's not "Goodbye" to comrade Wandile Mkhize, but "See you later"

I am one of those people who is not emotional about death. In my view, not only is death inevitable, it is also necessary to the evolution of society and the cycle of life. Without death there would be no life and without life, there would be nothingness. I have felt the sadness of losing a loved one. Thirteen years ago my uncle was gunned down as he was in the process of disarming security guards at the Dobsonville Shopping Complex. His brain matter was splattered all over the dustry streets of Messi Park, his head riddled with multiple bullets that were intended to end his life. As he lay in hospital fighting for his life, I watched as my family fell apart. And then a nurse, at that time I thought she was heartless, suggested that the life-machine that was keeping him alive be switched off because he was clinically dead and would not survive the head wounds. My family didn't agree to this, of course, but shortly after the nurse made this suggestion, Godfrey Motsamai Mahlatsi took his last breath and departed this earth. A girl of 8 at the time, my devastation knew no limits. Following that, I learned to deal with death much better, to understand it, to welcome it and to make sense of it. I simply concluded that just as science teaches us that what goes up must come down, life ought to teach us that what is born must also die. I was this rational and calm about death until this morning when I was informed about the death of comrade Wandile Mkhize.

I am not going to claim that the comrade and I were the best of friends. On the contrary. We agreed on very little and more often than not, were engaged in bitter political debates that would often tither on the brink of the personal. At one point, while chatting on inbox about a disagreement we had just had on his wall, I boldly told him that I don't like him much. And it was true. I did not like the comrade much, but I respected him immensely. I respected him because he was one of very few comrades I know who would always keep a level head about engagements even when insults would have been justified. Never, not even when I openly and arrogantly disrespected him, did the comrade resort to insults or petty means of engagements. He always treated my views with respect. Even when they contradicated his own, he would salvage the good in them and point it out, even if it was just to say that the argument was posed intelligently, flawed though its substance may be. That is who Wandile Mkhize was to me: an older comrade who engaged me rationally, whom I did not necessarily like much, but whose opinion mattered to me because of the potential to help me grow intellectually.

As indicated, the death of this comrade, in particular its nature, has shaken me to the very core. The reasons why a young man had to meet his end in such a violent manner might never be fully understood. However, what is fully understood is that a young man died. He was gunned down. He was killed. He was murdered. He was butchered by some thug(s) who have very little respect for human life. Some thug(s) who did not pause for a minute to think about what his/their actions would do to the Mkhize family, the Mass Democratic Movement family and the Afrikan family to whom comrade Wandile pledged his loyalty and dedicated his ideas. At no point between the aiming of the pistol and the pulling of the trigger did the thug(s) pause to think that this continent is in dire need of critical thinkers of comrade Wandile's calibre, and that only such thinkers hold the key to the true emancipation of the continent that finds itself in an abyss characterised by poverty, destitution, disease and economic bondage. No. This person(s) had one motive and that was to make comrade Wandile a statistic. This brutality alone is not what shocks me, for I have lived long enough in this apathetic and desensitised country to know that evil lurks in every corner. It is not the coldness of the murder that has me shaking in fear and trembling with fright as I watch the sun rise on the horizon. It is the implications of it that is threatening to paralyse me. It is the meaning of this diabolical crime that is suffocating the air out of my lungs.

Whether comrade Mkhize died for his views or was involved in some kind of dealings is yet to be determined. But whatever the issue, it seems plausible that the motive has elements of being political. This is in no way a dismisal of the possibility that the hit could have been for personal reasons that have nothing to do with his political life. But that possibility, in the face of the involvement of this comrade in political activities and the current political climate of the country, is as improbable as the possibility that there can be a megaquake in the country today. And so it leaves us with one feasible conclusion, that comrade Wandile's death was politically motivated. If so, there are severe implications for this country: (a) we have enetered into an epoch where guns have replaced dialogue (b) young people will no longer be interested in pursuing the political struggle which has the potential to claim their lives (c) those already in that struggle are at risk (d) to dissent is to invite death.


If comrade Wandi died for his views, then that means we've created an intolerant society where violence is accepted as a tool of rehabilitation, a method of punishment and a rule of engagement. This means that when we fail to convince other comrades with substance, we can justify pulling the trigger on their heads. And if this is the reality, if guns have replaced debate, it is not too much of an exageration to say that some day, we'll be entering congresses with guns and other types of weapons. When we don't agree with views, we'll just shoot each other, because that is how we communicate as a society.


Not since the dawn of a democratic dispensation has our country been this strongly gripped by depoliticisation. Our youth, once drivers of our liberation struggle vehicle, have become agents of pop culture, crass materialism and anti-politicisation. In this age, political consciousness is at its lowest and we are eternally grateful when young people show an eagerness to be involved in the current struggle, to make a stand and have a voice. So when young people, already skeptical about being involved in active politics, hear of comrades Sbu and now comrade Wandile, who were both gunned down like animals, what are they supposed to think but that the political arena is an abbatoir where human life is nothing? And these young people, why would they want to join politics when the political arena has become a platform for the donation of one's life? We must now accept that our youth will not join this struggle, because in the end, no-one wants to die like these comrades are dying. Not when life is an alternative.


As the news of comrade Wandile's death sunk in, I couldn't help but think of all my comrades who are actively involved in politics, both within and outside the congress movement. My bestfriends, Liyanda Maphanga, Mafika Mndebele, Phindile sisters in arms, Nombulelo Nyathela, Palesa Mphamo, Whitney Mokitimi, Samukelisiwe brothers in arms, Mlondi Mkhize, Awethu Amandla Zumana, Lazola Ndamase, Vusi Oldman Mahlangu...all these people who mean so much to me. I can't help but think about whether or not they are safe. The fear that continues to grip me is paralysing. The thought that they too are players in the same arena that has just claimed comrade Wandile is a reality that I cannot ignore, hard as I try to. And so if he, so young and only a few hours ago so alive, could be eliminated in an instant, what makes it impossible that they might suffer the same fate? Nothing does, especially when one takes into consideration the radicalism of some of their views and the influential positions that some of them occupy in our society. It is not impossible that my friends, my comrades, my pillars of strength, could one day be Wandile Mkhize, because that is how diabolical our politics have become. They are not only dirty, they are also deadly.


Political intolerance and greed, two separate parts of the same seven-headed dragon that is feasting on the political arena of occupied Azania. We have become so intolerant as a society that to differ in views is now synonymous to being mortal enemies. Throughout the years, genuine cadres of the struggle have perished for nothing other than the firm stance they took in the defence of their own convictions. They have met their demise for no other reason than that they had views that someone in the high echelons of power (and even the lower levels) didn't agree with and that alone became enough reason to force them to face their own mortality. And we have also seen the death of many a comrade for reasons related to material benefit and the accumulation of wealth that has overcome the accumulation of strength to fight for equality for all. Whether it is for tenders or for positions of leadership, we have witnessed many a times comrades being eliminated so that others can feast alone or assume positions at all cost. Such has become the standard norm in our society, so common that to be principled has become a revolutionary act as opposed to being a revolutionary's requirement. How we descended into this kind of abyss is a matter that we must still interogate, at another time when the country is not in such a heavy state of mourning.

The death of comrade Wandile is a blow to this country, to its children and to their children. We can only hope that those who are responsible are confronted with justice in its most raw form, that they are made to face the reality of an orange jumpsuit and an over-crowded prison cell. In another world, I'd even add that they ought to face the reality of the electric chair or the guillotine. But the true law-abiding citizen that he was, I doubt that comrade Mkhize would support such a view, not even for those who ended his young life.

We have a responsibility to remember comrade Wandile Mkhize's contributions to society. More than that, we have a responsibility to make this country a better place for his child(ren), who have lost a father, but can still be given a better world to grow up in.

Comrade Wandile, since you have now joined them in that other world, halla at Sobukwe, Biko, Hani, Tambo, Tiro and mama Sisulu for us. Tell them that siyazwakala nathi some day and sifun'umrhabulo mas'fika daar!

Malaika Wa Azania
Minister of Land Affairs 2033

1 comment:

  1. lovely article, he was my brother...i was born a year after him....still feels like am gonna see him driving into my yard, with his phone on his ear....and yah it remains there for more than an hour..........Am sure ubaba welcomed you when you got there...:(