Makakane: the rebel with a cause

Makakane: the rebel with a cause

MASERU – British novelist Joanne Rowling once said “it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be”.
Speakers at Afrika Makakane’s funeral last Saturday could not have said it more vividly.
The 47-year-old Makakane, the All Basotho Convention (ABC) candidate for the national election in Thupa-Kubu constituency, died four weeks ago in a car accident near Thaba-Bosiu.

His St. John’s Apostolic Church, where he was secretary-general, praised him for being a devout Christian who dedicated his life to God’s service. In his short message the priest said the multi-talented politician proved that he was “a God-sent to the people of Thupa-Kubu community and the nation at large because of the life he lived”.

From the mid-1980s to late 1990s Makakane was a stage actor, poet and orator whose contribution to the success of the then famous theatre troupe, Marotholi Travelling Theatre, has never been denied.
It was probably because of Makakane’s clear and high pitched voice, eloquence and acting that drew crowds to Maseru’s tiny halls and open ground performances.

“His life has been short but lived to the fullest,” the priest said.
His admirer and trainee in stage theatre, Silas Monyatsi, who is now a film producer and actor both in Lesotho and South Africa, said Makakane should have lived more “so that we see as he unveils one of his many talents that we had not seen”.

Makakane became interested in politics when he joined the National University of Lesotho (NUL)’s students’ protests against the government’s decision to stop funding humanities courses.

He had just graduated from the Lesotho College of Education (LEC), then called the National Teachers Training College.
At NUL, he made a public vow that his Students Representation Committee (SRC) would force the government to reverse its decision.
Sure enough as SRC president, a year later, Makakane led the students in a massive strike that forced the government to back down.

After school he had a stint at the St. James High School where he taught English before he went back to the NUL for further studies.
He would find himself leading the SRC again.

Makakane was so headstrong that the then acting vice-chancellor, Professor Mafa Sejanamane, withheld his certificates upon completion of his studies. He had to approach the courts to get his certificate.
It was during this time that Professor Sharon Siverts, an American academic, was NUL Vice Chancellor.
Makakane was a member of the university council by virtue of him being the SRC president.

The current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nqosa Mahao, had been invited to the NUL council as an outside member as he was then working at the University of Witwatersrand.

Mahao said they worked hard with Makakane to fight what he calls “a hatched plan to privatise the NUL”.
“Afrika Makakane was a brave young man,” Mahao said.

“He played an important role in saving this university from falling into the wrong hands,” he said.
Makakane joined the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) where he became an office administrator and later a forum of professional teachers before joining party politics.

His first race for parliamentary post was in 2015 when he won the Thupa-Kubu constituency under the ABC flag.
When he died he was running for the second time.

His two sons, Tšepo and Naleli Makakane, poetically praised their father for being a brave man.
His first born Tšepo said Makakane used to tell them stories about legends such as Solomon Mahlangu with a hope that they would follow their footsteps.

“I don’t know if it was by coincidence that lately my father liked to talk about Solomon Mahlangu or maybe it was by design,” Tšepo said.
Mahlangu (10 July 1956 – 6 April 1979) was a South African operative of the African National Congress (ANC) militant wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe.

He was convicted of murder and hanged in 1979. Tšepo said Makakane lately “used to talk about people who died for other people, from time to time he used to preach selflessness”. Tšepo, the NUL SRC president who led a month-long strike by the students earlier this year, said his father had a dream of establishing the Africa Makakane Development and Education Foundation for poor children.

“My father used to tell me that even though apartheid is over we still have other challenges like diseases,” Tšepo said.
He said the ABC should be easily consoled because his father played his part well.
His friend Sekonyela Mapetja said “Afrika left us just when Lesotho is in dire need of being saved”.

Nkheli Liphoto

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