Wednesday 30th April 2020: Today, we pay tribute to a great human-being and a formidable leader of our struggle. Barely days after our celebration of Freedom Day we bid farewell to Comrade Denis Goldberg who dedicated his life to its achievement. In his own words he reflected on this life of activism saying: “Freedom is more important than your own life.”
He was a principled cadre of our movement and South Africa has lost a man who stood by the values of justice, equality and freedom for all. Like his fellow Rivonia Trialists Cde Denis Goldberg continued to wage the struggle for justice long after the dawn of democracy.
He was of that unique generation of selfless individuals who chose a life of struggle over everyday comfort and complacency without any fear for the brutality that many suffered at the hands of the apartheid state. He spent 22 years of his life in incarceration and many years in exile before his return at the dawn of democracy.
His demise leaves only one survivor of the Rivonia Trial alive and reminds one of the immense but inevitable void that he has left. Future generations will herald him and others of his generation as heroes amongst heroes the like of which South Africa may never see again. Their lives were a living demonstration of the finest values that humanity ascribes to. Comrade Denis was heroic yet humble; fiercely outspoken an advocate of justice yet not bombastic; and most of all he was a symbol of great dignity and a refined character.
In paying tribute to him we acknowledge those who raised and mentored him and instilled a strong sense of dignity. His life of sacrifice must encourage us to also define the parameters of the struggle of our times and like him not confine ourselves to the narrow confines of our own survival. He was a true internationalist who identified with the struggles of the oppressed masses all over the world.
To his bereaved family we say zichrono livrachah – may his memory be a blessing and may you find solace therein for a struggle well fought and a life well lived. May his soul rest in peace!!
Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council and grandson of famed South African President Nelson Mandela. Member of Parliament (MP) South Africa National Assembly.