Msiyane Hall, Jozini: 8 September 2011
In 1932, a young woman, moved by her friend's
bereavement, penned these words:
"Do not stand at my grave and weep. I
am not there; I do not sleep."
When I received the sad news of Ms Hleziphi
Myeni's passing, I recalled these words, because I know that,
while she is no longer with us, Ms Myeni is alive in Christ.
Thus, as we mourn our loss today, let us also celebrate the life
of a strong and faithful woman that continues in eternity.
I am honoured to stand as the leader of the
Inkatha Freedom Party to sing the praises of our late sister.
Our Party was such a significant part of her life that she will
be remembered whenever the IFP is remembered. She was one of our
most powerful women leaders, because she was outspoken and
direct; passionate about the IFP's principles and determined to
uphold them in the political arena. Her death leaves a void in
our Party that will not easily be filled.
As the many graves scattered across the world
attest, no one is indispensible. The world still spins, even
when we lose people that seem pivotal to our lives. Ms Myeni was
a former Deputy National Chairperson of our Women's Brigade and
was the Speaker of the Jozini Municipality when that
municipality was under the leadership of the IFP. Since the
Local Government Elections, she served as an Exco Member of
She was a rare kind of leader. Even in the
midst of great treachery and political subversion, none of us
could doubt the loyalty of Hleziphi Myeni.
Her home was the IFP and she defended our
Party's legacy, policies and values with her every breath.
She was an unusually blunt lady, making no
apology to anyone for her forthrightness. But this allowed
everyone to know where they stood and, more importantly, where
she herself stood. It is a testimony to her character that the
ANC Women's League issued a message of condolences upon her
passing. Her loyalty and leadership commanded respect.
But Ms Myeni was not merely a politician. She
was a teacher first, and she was good at it. Many children
passed through her hands as they received an education. For
someone so young, she managed to create a legacy that will
continue for many years. Indeed, her youth makes her death
harder for us to bear. Ms Myeni was one of those who had a
bright future ahead of her. It is painful when a life so well
lived is cut short so early. But we must submit to the will of
God, for in the end we are mere pilgrims and God alone knows
when our time is up. So let us not mourn the years our sister
did not have, but rather remember with gratitude the years she
used so wisely to make her mark.
If there is anything we can do to honour her
memory, I believe it is to revive the structures of the IFP here
in Ingwavuma. Let us be inspired by the life of Hleziphi Myeni
and remember the legacy she worked to protect. I am often
surprised that so many people in Ingwavuma have forgotten the
history of this place. You have forgotten what the IFP did to
protect the status of Ingwavuma as part of South Africa when the
Nationalist Government threatened to give it away to Swaziland.
On 18 June 1982, the Apartheid Government
announced that it had repossessed Ingwavuma. It was going to
give away people and land to a foreign country, as though they
were mere pieces on a chess board. They had not consulted the
people of Ingwavuma, nor the KwaZulu Territorial Authority. As
Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, I opposed
this vile plan.
Through the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly and
through the Inkatha Freedom Party, I took the issue to the Natal
Supreme Court. Within less than a month the court ruled against
the Government, cancelling its plans. Ingwavuma and part of
kaNgwane, which they had also tried to give away, would remain
part of KwaZulu. If the Government had succeeded, everyone in
Ingwavuma would automatically have lost their South African
citizenship. You would not be South African today, were it not
for my opposition to Government.
Of course, the Apartheid Government appealed
the ruling, but the Appeals Court in Bloemfontein upheld the
Supreme Court's decision and Ingwavuma remained part of South
Africa. This is part of the legacy of the IFP. It is a legacy
that Ms Myeni dedicated her life to protecting. I am surprised
that our memories are so short that we do not remember these
intrigues of the previous era. And I am disappointed that those
of us who remember our past do not pass it on to the next
This history inspired Hleziphi Myeni, as it
should inspire all of us, especially here in Ingwavuma. I am
saddened by the fact that she died with all that knowledge. More
so because she has died in the same year as Mr Eric Ngubane, who
was involved in the litigation that secured Ingwavuma. I hope
that these stalwarts of our Party will remain an inspiration to
us for whatever is left of our own lives. While Ms Myeni has
passed on, the memory of her courage remains.
Many words of praise will be spoken about
Hleziphi Myeni. She was a fearless fighter, a strong and
resolute leader, a tireless campaigner for justice and equality,
and a defender of the principles of the IFP. She was also a
beloved member of the Myeni family, a fondly remembered teacher
and a faithful child of God. She cannot be replaced. I do not
know how we will find someone to fill her shoes. At best, we can
continue her work, sharing her passion and being inspired by her
I am sorry that I will not be able to attend
our sister's funeral on Saturday, as it coincides with the
annual Reed Dance ceremony of His Majesty the King. But I am
glad I had this opportunity to honour Ms Myeni and to remember
the outstanding service she gave to the IFP. I wish to thank her
family for lending her to us, for I know the kind of sacrifice
it takes to be politically involved, and I know that that
sacrifice is made by one's family as well. Thank you for your
May the Lord comfort and uplift us as we mourn
our loss. I thank God that we do not mourn as those without
hope. As Believers, we live in hope of the resurrection. Even
though we lose our loved ones, we believe we will meet them
again as we too step into eternity. We recall the gospel of St
John in chapter 11, where our Lord assured Martha, "I am the
resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may
die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall
So we know that our sister is not dead, but
alive in Christ. Her passing has shocked us, for she was young.
Her life has inspired us, for she was courageous. But her faith
is what will remain. After speaking to Martha about eternal
life, Jesus asked, "Do you believe this?" None of us can avoid
answering that question.
In closing, allow me to return to the words of
the young lady who wrote -
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.