No drama at much-anticipated wreath-laying ceremony at Sol Plaatje’s grave at the West End Cemetery.
THE MUCH-anticipated wreath-laying ceremony at Sol Plaatje’s grave at the West End Cemetery proceeded without the expected drama yesterday morning.
The ceremony was led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, together with Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul who gave a stern warning following earlier controversy when members of the Plaatje family took down a fence erected around the grave by the provincial Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.
A delegation from the Plaatje and Mogodi families was also present at the ceremony.
The ANC and the family expressed their apologies for the drama that resulted in world-wide embarrassment for all parties.
Ramaphosa described Plaatje as one of the most colourful leaders that the ANC has ever produced, in terms of the contribution that he made from the beginning of his youthful days.
Ramaphosa said Plaatje’s enquiring mind had resulted in him being elected as the first secretary-general of the ANC.
“I have a personal connection to him because I was once a secretary-general of the ANC. But he beat me by three years because he was elected at the age of 36 while I was elected at the age of 39,” said Ramaphosa.
He stated that inspiration should be drawn from Plaatje’s dedication and selflessness, including him being an intellectual who helped inspire the vision that the ANC finally adopted.
He added that Plaatje became one of the most outstanding secretaries of the movement at that time.
“We are here to draw inspiration for what he stood for, like how he articulated the feelings and aspirations of black people on the land issue. The ANC 54th national conference took a very revolutionary resolution on the land question, which was inspired by his writing on the land question.”
Ramaphosa promised that the pain that Plaatje articulated and the aspirations that he propagated would be realised following the resolution that was adopted at the conference.
Saul pointed out that continuous engagements with the family were aimed at assisting to bring about a common understanding of what Plaatje means to the lives of many.
He further highlighted Plaatje’s commitment, which he dedicated at a very young age, to the liberation struggle.
Saul also expressed his disappointment at the manner in which the same drama arises whenever the Struggle icon is honoured by government.
“On behalf of the ANC in the Province we would like to apologise for the drama that unfolded around this ceremony. But we don’t want to get ourselves involved in whatever is happening within the Plaatje family,” said Saul
“When we had to name this municipality in 2004 we had to go through the same kind of drama. It happened again when we named the university. At the centenary anniversary of the ANC, which was attended by the former president of the ANC, we also had to go through this.
“But we hope as the ANC in the Province that this is the last time we have to go through this when we honour and celebrate the contribution of the family.”
A representative of the family, Obakeng Plaatje, thanked the ANC for not getting weary of the family despite the family dramas.
On behalf of the family he committed to collectively afford the ANC the opportunity to give the deserved respect to their late forefather.
According to Obakeng, family delegations from the North West, Northern Cape and the Free State decided to stand up and say enough is enough.
“It is clear that the family stood up when they saw this drama and said that enough is enough. This icon does not belong to us but is a world icon. Moreover, this is the father of the ANC who was part of making sure that the ANC became what it is today. We believe that we cannot stop him from being honoured. We are humbly saying that we are happy and want to support anything in our movement,” said Obakeng.
In response to whether he was a direct or an indirect descendant, as labelled by some family members, Obakeng lashed out.
“There are no direct or indirect descendants here. We are all descendants – that is final. We will work with the organisation in taking the legacy of our father forward,” he said.