South Africa

TRIBUTE

Thabo Masebe worked tirelessly to ensure the SA democratic story was told in full

Thabo Masebe worked tirelessly to ensure the SA democratic story was told in full
Thabo Masebe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

Thabo Masebe was a genuine revolutionary who never sought to bring attention to himself or to individuals in all of his work, but instead did it out of a deep understanding of the power of the collective.

Upon hearing of the untimely passing on of Comrade Thabo Masebe, one was reminded of these words from the eminent South African author Zakes Mda, which could be said to aptly and succinctly describe Comrade Thabo’s immense contribution to the democratic state, as well as the people of South Africa: “I write to tell a story. If you are truly telling a South African story, then it will be political, because you are dealing with people who lead political lives in an environment which is highly politically charged.”

In a highly politically charged environment, Comrade Thabo Masebe was at the forefront of telling the good story of the post-94 democratic dispensation, along with all its challenges and setbacks. He was a seasoned government communicator who always believed that your best weapon as a communicator was to stick to evidence-based, factual communication(s).

He worked tirelessly to ensure that the South African democratic story was told in its fullness, adhering to the oft quoted and cliched Amilcar Cabral mantra: “Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.”

For many of us, he was also an older brother, a sounding board. For others he was a mentor, an exemplary ANC deployee into the state who served with great distinction, diligence and utmost commitment as well as professionalism. 

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He was a genuine revolutionary who never sought to bring attention to himself or to individuals in all his work, but instead did it out of a deep understanding of the power of the collective. He always sought to profile the work of the ANC and government in order to tell the full story and bring out the truest picture.

Of course, Comrade Thabo Masebe was more than just a communicator. He was a former ANCYL activist, serving within the NEC of this progressive youth formation as treasurer-general at some point in time. As cliched as this may be in our day, he truly was one of the finest, sharpest products of the progressive student and youth movement in our country.

He was an individual who lived life to the fullest, “sucking the marrow out of life”, in the words of Henry David Thoreau from his book “I Went to the Woods”. 

A wine connoisseur, a lover of golf, a die-hard Manchester United supporter, Comrade Thabo was a well-rounded individual, erudite and articulate, who made his contribution to the struggle for people’s emancipation in South Africa.

In mourning his death, we must remind ourselves to pick up the baton and continue engaging in the battle of ideas within the public space, fighting to entrench our progressive values and ideals within the South African body politic. 

We must strive to better and more effectively analyse and explain our socioeconomic transformation agenda to the people of South Africa.

We must enhance our ability to propagate the ANC’s outlook and values to South African society and strengthen our interaction and relationships with media in order to create the platforms necessary to bring our message across in a cogent and compelling manner. This is how best we can truly honour the memory of Comrade Thabo Masebe.

In bidding farewell to him – as we dip our revolutionary banner to him – let us remind ourselves of these words from Zakes Mda, from his novel “Ways of Dying”: Death lives with us every day. Indeed, our ways of dying are our ways of living. Or should I say our ways of living are our ways of dying.”

Robala ka kgotso Tlou ekgolo. DM

Lebogang Maile MPL is the Gauteng Member of the Executive Council for Human Settlements, Urban Planning, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. He is also a Provincial Executive Committee member of the ANC in Gauteng. He writes in his personal capacity.

 

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