Today the sorrow of my heart joins the cries of the Royal Bafokeng Nation as we come together to grieve for the passing of a great son of Africa, Kgosi Lebone Molotlegi II. I am honoured to be among the King's people, his family and friends on this occasion so that I may share your burden and pay tribute to a leader of stature and greatness. As a leader of my own people, I understand the close relationship of trust and interdependence which develops between a leader and those he leads. I know that each of us present here today has experienced that relationship in one form or another, and I offer my condolences to every heart which weeps for its loss.

However, as a Believer, I am also aware that death is not an end to relationships, but merely announces the transformation of our experience. King Molotlegi II has departed this world, yet he remains alive within the memory and the hearts of each of his subjects. A great man will never truly die. His contribution to the history of this nation will be remembered for years to come as he joins the ranks of his ancestors who shaped the Bafokeng Nation and watch over its people with pride. I had the privilege to meet with King Molotlegi II in person only once. Yet he left an impression upon me which has not dimmed, of greatness, dignity and strength. Indeed, I have been deeply impressed by the entire royal family. I know of his great contributions towards the development of the Bafokeng. Indeed his passing away at such a tender age, reminds me of a well-known Zulu saying: ISITSHA ESIHLE KASIDLELI, which literally translated means that it is always the best vessel that breaks easily.

It has been my sad duty throughout the years to attend many funerals of leaders who were both my comrades and friends. My sorrow is not eased by the familiarity of this occasion, yet the burden is made lighter by the knowledge that these men and women have imprinted their lives on the memory of nations. The sadness of this occasion, however, is doubled by the fact that King Molotlegi II died in the prime of his life. He was still a young man and it is never easy to understand the will of our Lord, who gives life and takes it away again without warning. To many of us, His will seems a premature death. We must seek comfort in the assurance that God knows the time and the place for all things and that even this death is according to the greater plan of our Creator.

The passing of a king unites his people in a transcendent moment of loss which carries the thoughts of daily concerns far from our minds. His people are touched by a deeply felt solidarity in their pain, sharing the solemn silence occasioned by the flight of such a soul to its final rest.

The passing of a king affects the life of every subject and emblazons itself in the memory of our children. I know that the children of the Royal Bafokeng Nation will pass on the tale of King Molotlegi II, so that generations to come will remember his power and marvel at his strength. 

King Molotlegi II was indeed a strong man, for he carried upon his shoulders the burden of guiding and leading a great nation. He did so much within his short life. He achieved what many people do not manage to achieve in a longer lifetime than his short sojourn on earth.

I know that a king is the symbol of a nation's pride. The royal persona embodies the strength, unity and power of a people, and for this reason he is revered by his people as a representative of all that is hoped for and all that is good. The Royal Bafokeng Nation is long established and recalls a history intricately intertwined with the history of this land. Under the leadership of King Molotlegi II, the Bafokeng Nation worked towards prosperity and upliftment. There remains a long road ahead, however, and it is truly a pity that King Molotlegi II should have died at this time.

Today, traditional leaders are facing unprecedented threats to their recognised position and hereditary functions. King Molotlegi II was a point of reference for all amaKhosi and gave the example of a leader whose heart beats in rhythm with his people.

If we are to honour the memory of King Molotlegi II in a way befitting the contribution he gave, I believe that we must work determinedly to protect the traditional role of our amaKhosi. Our communities have their own established structures and hierarchy, and for years upon years we have respected the leadership of our kings and amaKhosi. If we allow our amaKhosi to be stripped of their role and powers within their own communities, it will deliver a tremendous blow to our known way of life and could relegate the culture of our people to the annals of history. The dawn of a new millennium and the advancement of a technological age does not require that we should surrender our traditional values or discard our established way of life. We must move with the changing times, but this does not demand that we leave behind all we have respected for decades.

Kgosi Lebone Molotlegi II dedicated his life to giving this nation a leadership worthy of respect and allegiance. He carried the needs of his people ahead of every other consideration and worked hard to ensure that the Royal Bafokeng Nation could indeed prosper and grow along the same lines of greatness which have characterised his people throughout history. Seldom does one see a traditional leader so committed to carrying the royal baton of tradition, while looking to the resources of the present to fulfil his people's needs. I have been deeply impressed by King Molotlegi II and I will never forget his determination and noble character. To have met him during his lifetime is a privilege I will always cherish for what remains of my own life.

We cannot hope to understand the mystery of death. It takes the most noble leaders and the lowest wanderer alike. Yet we know that each of us leaves an indelible footprint in this world.

The footprint left by King Molotlegi II will be difficult to fill, but the Royal Bafokeng Nation need merely look at the direction in which he walked to know where to go from here. The royal nation of King Molotlegi II must continue to move towards the goals he set, remembering the guidance he has given and paying tribute to his inspired leadership. The road continues to stretch out ahead and all of us must walk upon it with bravery. As we honour King Molotlegi II on this sad occasion, let us look towards a future which is closer because he lived. I offer my sympathies to the royal family and pray that God will comfort your weeping hearts, and strengthen you in this hour of great trial.


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