- 1994-09-25 (Creation)
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Our dear Sister Winnie
Thuto, Poloko, Mkhululi, Ndlela and grandchildren
Comrades and Friends
We have gathered here today to pay our last respects to a stalwart of our struggle,
a man whose life for more than five decades was part of the very fabric of our
[Visit to Saint Augustine]
Together with Thomas Nkobi we have walked long distances. The landmarks of
his life are the mileposts of our struggle.
His family was drawn to the city of Johannesburg by the gold mines hungry for the labour of our
people. As a youth in Alexandra he was inspired by the first bus boycott there in 1944.
The mass historical actions of our people, demanding a better life and determined to win their freedom, inspired and impelled him into active political life.
A practical man, he emerged as a dedicated and energetic organiser. He was one of the team that formed the backbone of the Defiance campaign and played a similar [role] in the Congress of the People, from which emerged our historic Freedom Charter.
His courage and his commitment to share the dangers of struggle with the people led to his arrest in the potato boycott, which he defiantly pursued even from within the police cells.
As apartheid oppression intensified and liberation politics were brutally repressed, Thomas Nkobi, now National Organising Secretary, helped implement the plan which would enable the now outlawed ANC to continue operating underground.
Banned and under house arrest, he went to share the tasks of exile with OR Tambo, Moses Kotane, Ruth Mompati, J B Marks, Yusuf Dadoo, Moses Mabhida, Joe Slovo and many of the outstanding sons and daughters of South Africa. For almost two decades be exercised the heavy and key responsibility of raising and managing the finances of our movement.
Aspects of our struggle were enriched by his wisdom, his rectitude and his firmness as the ANC's Treasurer-General. We relied heavily upon his extraordinary ability to marry the material and political needs of the struggle.
They depended too on his persuasiveness as a fundraiser, his ability to communicate to those in lands far from our struggle the ANC's vision of a new non-racial South Africa and to convince them of the legitimacy of our armed struggle and the need for the international community to support it. He became a world traveller, as he said, a beggar for the movement.
To him and his comrades we owe a great deal for the contribution their work made to the establishment of missions throughout the world, to the building of Umkhonto We sizwe, to the establishment and nurture of our camps and schools in Angola, Zambia and Tanzania, to the flow of funds into the country for conducting the struggle underground.
He was not just a remote administrator caring for finances - the welfare of individuals was close to his heart. As more and more exiles poured out of South Africa, Nkobi, always a caring person, humane and fatherly, became deeply concerned for their welfare and conditions, particularly the youth who came into his care.
In particular, he saw education as an essential part of their development, and even after the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College was built he remained deeply concerned about the welfare of students and staff.
As the record of his long and fruitful life, these are just the bare bones. Those of us who had the privilege of knowing Nkobi, the honour of working with him, of being brought down to earth by him, respected and loved him. His commitment to the aims and ideals of the ANC was total and dynamic. His political understanding was always translated into practical means,
With the return of our organisation to an open and legal life, Thomas Nkobi's work assisted in the repatriation of exiles and the establishment of the ANC's national and regional structures. His font of energy and enthusiasm undiminished and renewed by the advance towards freedom, he continued to devote his energies to working for that day.
Thomas was blessed in that he was able to see freedom in his lifetime. He was able to take his seat in the first democratic Parliament of South Africa.
He never gave up despite failing health and the need to rest. He said of himself, that there was not a time, not a year, not a day, not a week where he could just rest.
This was an attitude that made him the great man that he was, and it is what brings us here today. He dedicated hislife to the movement and we shall never forget.
Winnie, we thank you for your devoted solicitude to our comrade, in good health and in illness. Your forbearance and strength are a shining example of comradeship. We acknowledge and appreciate your contribution and sacrifice. You have raised your family without complaint, more often without the presence of Thomas.
Today, as we face the ravages of apartheid, the challenges of reconstruction and development of a non-racial society, it is the humour, dedication, strength and resolve exemplified by T. T. Nkobi that we will all require.
Human beings come and go.
Treasurer-General of the African National Congress, a member of its National Working Committee, an ANC Member of the first democratically elected Parliament but above all , Thomas Titus Nkobi.