WE REMEMBER ONTIRETSE PILANE


Pule Mabe

AND today we remember Ontiretse Pilane

At the rising of the sun and at its going down, We remember Ontiretse


At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter,We remember Ontiretse

At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of Spring,We remember Ontiretse


At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer, We remember Ontiretse


At the rustling of leaves and the beauty of Autumn,We remember Ontiretse.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends,We remember Ontiretse


As long as we live, Ontiretse too will live; for she is now a part of us, as we remember her

When we are weary and in need of strength,We remember Ontiretse

When we are lost and sick at heart,We remember Ontiretse


When we have joys we yearn to share, We remember Ontiretse


When we have decisions that are difficult to make, We remember Ontiretse.

When we have achievements that are based on hers,We remember Ontiretse


As long as we live, Ontiretse too shall live, for she is a part of us, as we remember her

On Wednesday the 21st of June; we received the sad news that one of our own Comrade Ontiretse Pilane is no more; that she has ceased to be and to be counted amongst us. Our pain has been enforced by the inability to divorce any thinking about Ontiretse from her smile and that natural energy of the person we all came to know; a sister in deeds and comrade in arms. Ontiretse was herself; full of life; composure and drive. Ontiretse made comradeship another site of fulfillment; performing tasks apportioned to her with such great enthusiasm.

Those of us who crossed paths with her can attest to the amount of joys that came out of working with this wonderful soul. The Ontiretse I knew belonged to a generation of fearless and radical economic freedom fighters; she used her wit and intellect as a policy coordinator and researcher of our ANCYL 23rd and 24th NEC collective to punctuate our resolve; generate context and giving meaning to our clarion call on economic freedom in our life time. She belonged to a distinguished category of the rank and file never afraid to publicly associate with the pronouncements of our leadership collective regardless of their public standing.

She will be found defending these pronouncements as if she was a part of the deliberations that produced such resolves.

Unfortunately death; the harmful coward has decided against our collective desire to sustain our mortal relations with Ontiretse relocating her to an address in a village where only chosen angels like her could find survival.

As we did with Oniteretse in yester years; we too are still capable in her unapproved absence of unleashing our efforts in protest forming a mass in unison ­ displaying our big placards of affection and love screaming her name and calling for her return. As combatants that are known to her faith as fellow fighters we still have the resilient stamina of shouting for her release.

As discipline dictate we have decided to betray our misplaced conscious in this regard and submit to the obvious to humbly release Moya wa Setlogolo Sa Bakgatla Ba Kgafela; Kgoro ya Ramoselekatse ­ Ontiretse Pilane ­ with some resistance of course ­ we are left with no option but to expunge her from the records permanently as she will no longer help us to form a quorum; Lehu Ngwetsi Ya Malapa le re etetse.

Today we are going to show this abrupt guest called death that we are harmless and loving people and would appreciate a silent retreat from instance so that we too the people of Ontiretse could have some peace of mind and find some space to tell exciting tales about our encounters without any doubt of an untimely visit of the nameless guest.

Since we are comrades of values, pride and honor; consistent with our tradition of relentless struggles we are unshaken and won’t be deterred by this sudden pain from celebrating the credentials of our own. For as long as we live Ontiretse Pilane will never die. We have volunteered our time, we the graduates of Vuka’Imbambe, Masupatsela, the young lions to continue carrying her name like that of Anton Lembede, Robert Resha, Patrick Moloa, Nelson Mandela, Peter Mokaba and many others who have come to constitute our own heroes’ acre of courageous young lions.

In the words of Robert Bertschausen; ‘Grief can awaken us to new values and deeper appreciations. Grief can cause us to reprioritize things in our lives, to recognize what’s really important and put it first. Grief can heighten our gratitude as we cease taking the gifts life bestows on us for granted. Grief can give us the wisdom of being with death.

Grief can make death the companion on our left who guides us and gives us advice. None of this growth makes the loss good and worthwhile, but it is the good that comes out of the bad. The teachings of Anthony J D’Angelo about Treasuring Relationships beyond Possessions best personify the character that Ontiretse Pilane emulated. True to the lamentations of another humane Chinese Proverb that “Every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another”

Ontiretse saw greater value with a deep sense of sisterhood and camaraderie in relationships, a truly loving and honest individual, and an extreme extrovert displaying her attitude on situations without any diplomatic gesture. That’s Ontiretse for you: if its time to shout the match begins and if its time to laugh the beat goes on. This is the comrade in arms whose call or text I couldn’t afford missing as any attempt to miss such repeatedly will be followed by a well written protest SMS ­ She was just like that; called it by its real name and still laughed about it.

To relate with this kind of an individual always brought a great sense of relief as you easily knew without having to second guess her where you stood with each other. She exposed me to the growing trend of WhatsApp groups which have become effective tools of dialogue and engagement amongst comrades.  She would insist that I should participate in these groups; one such group was Madelakufa ­ which she was a passionate participant off. If there was something bothering her within the public discourse you could easily detect from the numerous posts coming from her end.

If anything, being a member of the African National Congress was the ultimate for her; attending the Annual January 8 festivities was religious; the ANC ran in her veins and most importantly taught her to be of service to others hence once she believed in something she hang onto it and would not be easily persuaded against her own beliefs.

She possessed all rare qualities we desperately need in cadres today, qualities of loyalty, selflessness, dedication, discipline and passion.

In the Words of Queen Elizabeth II ­ “Grief is the price we pay for love”. We are pledging the same for our selfless and peace loving patriot ­ who spend the years of her youth as an activist always at the service of her people advocating and advancing the National Democratic Revolution.

Ontiretse was a Patriot to the end; ever ready and available to be of service to her people; spoke her mind without fear; a gentle soul that never took kindly to being ignored. She always took efforts to assert her views and ultimately win the attention of all us on a matter we might not have paid too much attention on.

She was driven by passion and performed her work with noticeable diligence. The one solemn thing she subscribed to was impact: Ontiretse wanted to make sure that the tasks she performed in the organization had impact in the overall execution of our revolutionary duties.

Ontiretse always carried the courage of her convictions and understood what meant to be a cadre. Ontiretse possessed an admirable sense of humility and understood the value of relationships; a true volunteer ready to hit the ground running.

Ontiretse loved challenges and deemed challenging situations as learning curves. Her passion for research was also driven by the contribution she believed she could make in the service of our own movement the ANC. She understood the plight of mining communities and spoke vividly about such with some sense of sentimental attachment. It will be only during offline engagement that real issues will come up; these will often include a free lecture about her own village of Muruleng and the experiences of her people with the local mines. Her support for radical economic transformation was also driven by this homegrown experience and maintained at the time like of us that nationalization of mines accompanied by the expropriation of land without compensation was the most ideal route.

Ontiretse was a well grounded activist who viewed knowledge acquisition as a standard revolutionary duty; in her own world continuous learning and reading was supposed to be a basic way of life for all peace­loving revolutionaries.

Sadly, we are laying our own Ontiretse to rest during the week of commemorating 62 years of the Freedom Charter and on the eve of the much anticipated 5th National Policy Conference of the ANC.

In her name including countless others who selflessly took the long walk to freedom; fighting to attain the National Liberation Project; those of us who still enjoy the privilege of human existence should use the occasion of both the upcoming Policy Conference of the ANC and the 54th National Conference of the ANC to deepen the unity of our people and protect the future that Ontiretse believed in; one made possible by a strong, united and cohesive peoples movement.

This call to action demands of us to assimilate a different kind of unity which is the Unity of the Soul; suppress our individual interest and put people first as a noble gesture of salute to the countless courageous men and women who got incarcerated and surrendered their life’s for our own freedom.

If we believe in a future of possibilities like Comrade Ontiretse we should therefore do everything we can in our authority to make sure that the ANC continues on a rightful trajectory as leader of society. We must be part of shaping and affirming policies that will make South Africa an even much better place ­ we owe it our to people and we can do much better. The reason why Ontiretse like others agreed to run the race ­ our race ­ was because she too wanted to be counted as having contributed towards the good of her people.

Ontiretse was herself a political animal through and through; therefore each time we commemorate the Freedom Charter henceforth should also celebrate the 40 years of her life which we had the honor of sharing with her. The most befitting send off in her honor is to sustain a noble and courageous fight on the return of the land to the majority of our people.

True Radical Economic Transformation will only happen when our people earn their rightful ownership to the means of production and become part of the whole value­chain of the mainstream blue­chip economy; one which is currently in the hands of the minorities. Diversifying ownership patterns and introducing price floors and price ceilings on basic commodities is another form of radical economic transformation. There is no way that our people those on whose behalf Ontiretse stood can participate in the economy when they can’t afford basic necessities.

Our people ­ the people of Ontiretse ­ the rank and file ­ those who leave in squalor ­ look upon us to exercise to better their lives. The ownership of the mines and other monopoly establishments largely within the financial services sector must be diluted to reflect the demographics of communities where they operate to restore the pride of the people of Moruleng and Ontiretse the peace her soul dearly needs at this hour.

Ge ba ipoka ba Pilane A Malosa ba re:

Selo se mo kopong se mo ditlhothle
Ba ba dintlha Ba ntse ba segwaisa­gwaisa Se gwaisitse ke mamaragwana a Matabele Morula o o kutu­kgolo Bakgatla
Ngwana Sefatana sa Moruleng
Sedibelo sa fya sa Tuka
Ntja e jele ntjanyana tsa yona

Robala ka Kgotso Kgabo

Pule Mabe is a member of the ANC NEC and Former Treasurer General of the ANC Youth League

Posted in Viewpoints.

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