MESSAGE OF CONDOLENCE ON
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF
OCTOBER 20, 2001
Words escape me as I look to the loss of my brother, Dr Frank Mdlalose and my sister, Mrs Eunice Mdlalose. Surely the human mind is not equipped to fathom the depth of this tragedy, that a man should lose both his sons through terrible car accidents. In this dark hour, I extend my hands and heart to my dear friend, calling him to lean on me and take comfort from those who have known and loved him for so many years. Dr Frank is my brother. The loss of his son is a loss to my own family. His tears are my own, and his grief is shared. There is no bond like that between father and son. In this tragic hour, I pray that our God and Father will comfort His children.
Like his father, Mandlenkosi Mdlalose aspired to be a physician, choosing to heal, protect and care. The tragedy of his untimely death is compounded by the fact that he had so recently qualified in his chosen field, becoming Dr Mandlenkosi Mdlalose. In his fatherís eyes, Mandlenkosi will always be the proud young man who took hold of his dreams and followed a destiny seemingly set for greatness. There is no explanation why such prospects should be cut short, or why his young life was taken. Yet I believe that had this dark course of death not intervened, Mandlenkosi Mdlalose would have become a great man, following in the footsteps of his father. Without wondering what could have been, I may say that Mandlenkosi was a great man.
I feel I must recollect a few aspects of my association with Mandlenkosiís father, Dr Frank Mdlalose, because I feel that in such fashion I can best express the measure of my sorrow. Dr Frank Mdlalose has been my close companion in the struggle for many, many years. We have walked a long, often treacherous path together, sharing trials and stirring one anotherís endurance, sharing victories and celebrating one anotherís triumphs. As I look down the corridor of time, our histories are constantly intertwined. His older brother, Mthenjwa, and I were together in high school, and at Fort Hare University. Dr Frank Mdlalose arrived at Fort Hare University when I was already a sophomore and we were both members of the ANC Youth League at Fort Hare. We are also related by family as my motherís mother was from the Mdlalose family.
Dr Mdlalose has involved himself with the Inkatha Freedom Party since its inception, never balking at the weight of the burdens we have had to carry or the difficulties we have had to face. Indeed, he was with me at the formation of Inkatha at KwaNzimela, and was my Minister of Health in the erstwhile KwaZulu Government. Dr Mdlalose was involved in the
KwaZulu Natal Indaba which flowed out of the Buthelezi Commission, and he served with distinction in the first non-racial government in South Africa, the KwaZulu Natal Legislative Authority.
Within this man there is no shadow of turning. A true friend, he has remained faithfully committed to Inkatha and supported me through the various battles of vilification and political treachery, experiencing with me the many historical watershed moments of our countryís new birth. His skills, acumen and innate diplomatic qualities qualified him perfectly for the necessary negotiations which ushered in our countryís democracy. We began negotiations long before anyone else. In the late 70s and throughout the early 80s, we were already negotiating for democracy while others were pursuing the ill-fated dream of an impossible armed struggle. Constantly and throughout, Dr Mdlalose was at the forefront of negotiations. For this reason, when negotiations became almost a full-time job as the World Trade Centre process was established to conduct them, we made Dr Mdlalose Minister without Portfolio, so that he could attend to them.
Dr Mdlalose was the leader of the IFP delegation at the World Trade Centre, and in the many bilateral and multilateral processes which took place when the World Trade Centre process was not working, or when the IFP was forced to abandon it. Recognising his capacity to bring people together and promote the cause of reconciliation, I chose him as the first Premier of KwaZulu Natal. As a Premier, he is the one who brought forward my call towards reconciliation in this Province. Knowing him as I do, when the President asked me to identify an IFP leader for an ambassadorial position, I could think of no one more suitable than Dr Frank Mdlalose. Throughout his life he has expressed the diplomatic tradition at its best.
Dr Mdlalose has been a master of loyalty and integrity which are two qualities which do not often come together. Having witnessed his character, and seen its spark in his son, I feel acutely the tragedy of Mandlenkosiís death. I saw that out of the roots of such a great oak an offspring was coming which was giving clear signs of carrying forward his fatherís wisdom and skill with equal glory. He was already following in his fatherís footsteps having graduated as a medical doctor. He proved that it is not always true that wood only produces ashes, which signifies that often the glory of the father is not carried into the progeny. Even to this proverb there are exceptions and Mandlenkosi clearly proved to be one, in spite of his young age.
Within the Mdlalose family, there is a culture of service that has been carried down the generations. It is evident in Frank Themba Mdlalose and it was evident in Mandlenkosi. As Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu Nation, I wish to express the sorrow of the Zulu people at this tragic loss, for the Mdlalose house has served our nation with great distinction. Together with my grandfather, Mkhandumba, Dr Mdlaloseís grandfather, Hhahha Mdlalose, fought with courage and distinction at the Battle of Isandlwana, in spite of being very young. On behalf of the people of this Province and all the amaKhosi, I carry condolences to Dr and Mrs Mdlalose. As President of the Inkatha Freedom Party, I express the sympathy of our Party and the solidarity we feel today with our National Chairman Emeritus. As a brother and a friend, I find no words to express the pain I feel on your behalf.
I have no words to extend to my sister, Mrs Mdlalose, for the pain of a mother is expected in many ways to surpass that of a father. She is the one who carried Mandlenkosi in her body for nine months. She is the one who nurtured him and brought him up to be the wonderful child of God that Mandlenkosi was. She is the one who encouraged Mandla's father as he carried the burden of his education. Our prayers and thoughts go to her at this hour of great loss and trial. She is a lady made of sterner stuff, for how many mothers can afford to bear the untimely death of two sons, Thabo and Mandla, in a row, dying one after the other in tragic car accidents. To her we say, my sister - with that great man of God, Job, we say to her, and to our brother:
I extend the same message of condolence to the brother Themba and to Mandla's two sisters. My heart bled when I phoned Makhosazane on hearing the sad news when she said to me she thought that if the Lord wanted another member of her family, why did He not take her instead of her kid brother, Mandla, who still had all his life before him to live. I say to you my children, it is difficult to always accept God's Will, but as Christians we have to bow before God's Will, however, difficult this might be.
I have always respected Dr Mdlalose, not least because of his fortitude and uncommon strength of character. I witness in the essence of my brother the same light which illuminates my own path. Not only do we share a coinciding perspective on South African politics, social and economic issues, but our faith is motivated by the same unshakable belief in God Almighty. As Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Dr Mdlalose continued to hold prayer breakfasts even in the new KwaZulu Natal Legislature. I believe that his faith informs his opinions, for he has always looked to alleviate the suffering of our people by establishing a better way of life. In this too we share a common goal.
Having known him for so many years, I feel his wound deeply within my own soul. At a time such as this, I can only pray that his strength will not give out, but that the Lord will reach down and console his broken heart. This great and terrible loss leaves us dumbstruck. I regret that modern life has become so fast paced that navigating it has become dangerous and travelling has become a life-threatening hazard. It is a censure on our country and our people that the toll of road deaths is so high, and that one so luminous and so young can be taken in an instant through such a painful accident. Perhaps even the word accident is not sufficient to carry the weight of what has happened. Mandlenkosiís death is a tragedy that will be remembered. His life, caught in the crystalline beauty of youth, will be replayed in the memories of those who knew and loved this son of a great South African hero.
My family, members of the IFP, amaKhosi and the Zulu Nation mourn with you today. Our condolences go out to Dr F.T. Mdlalose. Words are not enough. In the silence, my own heart carries your pain. The mysterious Will of God remains beyond the limits of menís minds. There is much we do not understand. Yet we know that in Him nothing is senseless, for He knows us by name and has called us before the foundations of the earth. I pray, therefore, that our faith may not be shaken even under the burden of this tragic loss. To each He has given a measure of faith. Weak as we may feel in this sad hour, let us draw on the strength of Him who is more than enough.