Speech by the Minister Nathi Mthethwa during the funeral service of one of our legends Ms Thandi Klassen; Alberton, Gauteng.

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27 Jan 2017

Program Director: 

The Klassen family.

Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni

Ministers and Deputy Ministers present

MMCs and Councillors present

Creative workers of our country

Living Legends,

Representatives of the media

Distinguished audience,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Fellow compatriots.

Through music Thandi klassen and her generation fought against apartheid and in the process endured much pain and sacrificed the best years of their lives.

At every point of the way Mam Thandi, you were not content only to fight against, but you knew what you were fighting for.

You embraced love and hope in your music.                    

You asserted a proud and defiant love for humanity and what it means to be human.

Your songs contributed to the making of the memory of our people. It was not only nostalgic, but also an assertion of a People’s Culture.

It was an appreciation of her work that made our country to award you an Order of Baobab in Gold for excellent achievement in and contribution to the art of music, in 2006, amongst many awards she received.

Who would think a daughter of a shoemaker and a domestic worker would turn to be a world icon. The struggle song that is popular today saying my father was a garden boy and my mother was a kitchen girl has a practical resonance to her.

We are proud of you and your generation for the work you have done.

We also extend our appreciation to your family, to nature, God and the great beyond, to have given us you to share this life.

You will forever be in our minds as we discharge our life’s responsibilities.

Since you've been gone, your space has not been occupied in our minds.

Your passing leaves a gaping hole in the cultural life of our country and the African continent.

Together with your generation you used your voice, not merely to entertain, but to give a voice to the millions of oppressed South Africans under the yoke of apartheid.

This generation of indefatigable African patriots who used their immense talents in the service of their people and the struggle for freedom and democracy.

The love and support shown by arts fraternity paying tributes to mama Thandi Klassen shows not only how much these artists care and support each other, but also underlines their humanity.

The support of our Living Legends for a fallen traveller shows the world how artists are and also demonstrate the point that they are also human, not human trophies, or accessories you can buy at the store, but real human beings whose love is heartfelt.

The tributes and support shown to Mama Thandi Klassen and her family are overwhelming and is a sore reminder of the value of human life and how one simple life can create such a ripple in the world.

Their lips touched our hearts with hymns of beauty. They deployed their craft as a weapon in the struggle for peace and social progress.

There is a cruel practice in our country of not appreciating our talents when they are still around and feeding our souls; but when they are no more and they cannot see or hear what we say about them.

We forget that we have gems in our midst, people who taken it upon themselves to light up our lives.

Paying tribute to fallen South African musicians cannot only take the form of words uttered on their passing.

We need to support our musicians by attending their shows and buying their music. Otherwise all our kind words on their passing will be nothing but platitudes.

Every South African owes our artists a profound debt of gratitude. Every time we cast our votes or speak our minds without fear, it’s because they fought for our right  through song and words and art to do that.

Every chance we get to make a better life for ourselves and our families is possible because generations of patriots fought for our Country to be a place for all South Africans black and white.

We owe them so much. We owe Mam Thandi Klaasen so much.

Our history shines with patriots who answered the call to put a shoulder to the wheel, now it it our turn to demonstrate that we are born of a generation that gave everything for their country and people.

Most of all, let’s keep working to make sure that our country upholds our sacred trust to all our artists because there is so much work to be done, and it needs all hands on deck.

Rest musically Mama Thandi, rest peacefully, we love you.

Rest in peace, daughter of our soil and musical icon of South Africa, Africa and the world.

Thank you.