Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Oration by Malusi Gigaba, former MP and Minister, at the funeral of Archie Gomolemo Lucas, former ANC Youth League NEC Member in Kimberly

Programme Directors,
Honourable Premier, Comrade Zamani Saul,
The bereaved family of Comrade Archie Gomolemo Lucas,
Leaders of the movement in all your various designations,
Distinguished representatives of the various generations of the youth of our country,
Esteemed Guests,
Fellow mourners.

From all the corners of our country, representing all the generations of the young lions of the movement and struggle, we have assembled here on this hallowed piece of earth, in deep sorrow and sadness, to pay our last respects to one amongst us who distinguished himself not only as a leader, but as a reliable comrade and brave combatant in the struggle totally to free our country from racial tyranny and economic plunder.

As humble as always he was, he did not seek to steal attention away from the movement’s celebration of its 108th anniversary, silently he bowed down to fate, succumbing to the stealth hand of death as though he hoped we would not notice that a jewel on our crown had fallen.

A unifier, he contrived by his sudden departure to re-unite the various generations of the youth movement.

Archie had taken to his illness bravely without making much noise or seeking attention about it, never once to mention it to the many of us with whom he was in daily communication.

Our knowledge of him and his emotional, intellectual and physical prowess would not allow us to conceive of him frail from illness, because as ill as he was, he was still deeply preoccupied and up-to-date with the goings-on in our movement and our nation, as passionate about the national democratic revolution and fundamental social transformation as we had always known him to be.

Neither would he allow his personal circumstances and the knowledge that many among us had the capacity to assist distract him from his deep commitment to the movement, our revolution and our people.

He reminded us through the force of his example that when we joined the struggle, we harboured no personal ambitions other than the dream of freedom from oppression.

It was neither for glory nor distinction that our generation took to the struggle, abandoning our youth and everything that was dear to us, committing all our energies and efforts to the fight to emancipate our people from the indignity of oppression and exploitation.

Indeed, it would come to pass that many eminent members of our generation, like our predecessors, would make the ultimate sacrifice and succumb to death at the hand of an enemy that was as vicious as it was meticulous in its cruelty.

Over time, others would also have departed the world of the living during this democratic dispensation, for various reasons, leaving us with precious memories of the many years we spent together in the trenches of the struggle, in the meetings, conferences and campaigns of the youth and students movement, sharing ideas, debating issues robustly and sharing laughs together after the robust debates.

Many among the members of this generation would miss out on the chance to gain education which would prepare them for life in a democratic and free South Africa, such that today they have joined the army of the unemployed, with no skills, capacity and work experience, age fast turning against them as it accumulates.

It is also true that during the course of time, as we took our deployment in different terrains and sites of the struggle, we dispersed in different directions, forgot one another except as passing memories and during fleeting moments when we recalled our youth days, and we have not taken enough trouble to keep contact as a generation and care for one another.

We have also allowed generations ahead of us to come in between us and sow splits among us, leaving us imperilled by the prospects of oblivion and inability to fulfil our own historic mission at the head of the troops fighting for genuine and total liberation.

Archie’s passing has permitted us to reconnect and reflect on the role we have played in the struggle and the current and future challenges we face as a generation and people.

The unfolding process of struggle in our country has raised serious questions about the ability of the national liberation movement to complete the national democratic revolution (NDR).

If the understanding still prevails that victory over white supremacy had to embrace more than formal political democracy, that it, therefore, would have to entail the return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole, then should it stand to reason that without the accomplishment of this task, the NDR would remain incomplete.

Archie understood it that the historical task of the NDR, and the social forces leading it, is not merely to content themselves with tinkering with the colonial framework of racialised economic ownership, but it is to fundamentally alter the existing colonial social and economic relations and thus develop the capacity of the post-independence state to become compatible with the historical task of total emancipation.

He knew it that white supremacy was not merely a racist political system, but it was ultimately a socio-economic programme – a racialised bourgeois system – spawned by the urgency to extend the capitalist mode of production to shores beyond Europe.

He had been born and grew up when black people were not regarded as humans, but rather as repositories of cheap labour, the dehumanisation of whom thus became the modus operandi of the colonial system through which capital was accumulated and profits maximised.

It was in pursuing this task of political dominion and economic exploitation that the colonial system had shown its real and raw cruelty.

Born and growing up in Kimberly, where we shall finally lay him to rest, Archie understood the role both this city and the diamonds discovered in it during the mid-19th century had played in modernising the South African economy as well as in ushering in the system of political oppression and economic plunder described by Karl Marx as having been “accomplished with merciless vandalism, and under the stimulus of passions the most infamous, the most sordid, the pettiest, the most meanly odious.”

Archie thus wanted the ANC to be resolute and brave in pursuing a radical socio-economic transformation agenda that would ensure that it accomplishes the tasks of social revolution imposed on it by history, to avoid the chilling observation made by Uncle Jack Simons1 that the transfer of power elsewhere in Africa had not meant they had carried out a social revolution, that the tendency had been to maintain the old economic and political system.

Accordingly, he believed that the continued exclusive ownership of the economy by a racial minority, their continued dominance of management positions as well as the heavy influence of their interests in terms of the structure and institutions of the economy undermines the pursuit of genuine and total emancipation as we conceived during the struggle.

It was in pursuit of this vision that he actively participated in the struggle and structures of the movement, and subsequently served the new government both in political and public service capacities with diligence.

Archie was as comfortable in filing among the ranks as he was in occupying the forward trenches and providing leadership.

Paying tribute to an outstanding icon of the African and proletarian revolution, Moses Kotane in 1978, Dr. Yusuf Dadoo would say that:

“In the life of every nation, there arise men who leave an indelible and eternal stamp on the history of their peoples; men who are both products and makers of history. And when they pass they leave a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it.”

Those of us present to bid our final farewell to Archie today will concur that he belonged among those about whom Comrade Dadoo spoke on that fateful day.
Of all the everlasting tributes to such figures, one that stands out is that at some point they came to understand the overriding mission of their generation, located and subjected themselves as individuals among and to the collectives, and crafted us a vision of the future that would far outlive their own mortal existence.

Ever disciplined, Archie elevated the movement and its collective decisions above his own personal thoughts and feelings, and felt that we should unite the movement and eliminate disunity in its ranks if it must fulfil its historic mission.

A champion for the poor and for justice, he believed that the current divisions in the movement could be cured by uniting it firmly behind the material interests of the social motives of the NDR, which should be to transfer to the hands of the majority ownership of the productive assets of our land which they were expropriated by the colonial system.

He believed that to carry out such tasks required of all revolutionaries to be disciplined and resolute in implementing the resolutions adopted by the conferences of the movement.

Archie was truly a hero of our struggle and our youth; the youth in their various generations are correct to mourn him.

His brief history of courageous service to the the cause of liberation, loyal to the twin tasks of the ANCYL and the strategic objective of the NDR, deservedly have earned him the admiration and adoration of the youth of South Africa.

He has been an outstanding revolutionary intellectual and organiser of our youth and people; he has been an excellent friend to many of us from far and wide.

We thank his family for raising and nurturing him as a fighter for justice, for allowing him to participate in our struggle and for supporting him during the many long days when we took away from them whilst he served the masses of our people.

We wish you comfort during this time and trust that time shall heal your wounds.

We shall miss him dearly.

Rest in peace brother, your race is run!

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