Strug­gle hero Bra Ike Maphoto cel­e­brates his birth­day in style

African Times - - News - BUKUTA NKUNA

STRUG­GLE hero and ANC vet­eran Bra Ike Maphoto was de­scribed as a fear­less man who risked his life in his 20s, and faced the bar­ren of the gun of the apartheid regime to lib­er­ate his own peo­ple.

At his birth­day cel­e­bra­tion in Polok­wane, Lim­popo last week, young and old heaped praise on him for sac­ri­fic­ing his fu­ture for the sake of the coun­try.

The vet­eran politi­cian and sol­dier, who spent years in ex­ile and re­turned after the un­ban­ning of the ANC in 1990, was hon­oured for serv­ing his move­ment and the coun­try with in­tegrity.

Mem­bers of the Ike Maphoto ANC branch in the sub­urb of Ben­dor, the rich­est in the prov­ince and named after the vet­eran leader, lis­tened to sto­ries of hero­ism in­volv­ing him at the packed Osskool Pri­mary School in Polok­wane. The func­tion was at­tended by prom­i­nent politi­cians and busi­ness­peo­ple in­clud­ing Lim­popo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ra­math­uba and Sports, Arts and Cul­ture MEC Onicca Moloi.

Si Matome, the Chair­per­son of the Ike Maphoto branch, said they were hon­oured to have a politi­cian of Maphoto’s cal­i­bre in their midst.

“To the young man of the evening, I know we have worked closely along with the Sec­re­tary of the Re­gion im­me­di­ately after the un­ban­ning of the ANC. We were as­signed to com­rade Ike, Com­rade Mark Shope, Com­rade Lawrence Phakanoka and Com­rade [Mothupi] Pharephare be­cause they had to be part of the ne­go­ti­a­tions and spread­ing of the word to the vil­lages there. We were very young by then when they as­sisted us. We dis­man­tled even some of the struc­tures that were very dis­rup­tive to our com­mu­ni­ties, like the Phuzari­vandla some­where around Mapela as they were ha­rass­ing our com­mu­ni­ties,” said Matome.

He called on the party to cel­e­brate vet­er­ans while they are still alive than do so when they are no more.

“Com­rade General you are a rare breed amongst us the young ones. I hope that we will em­u­late your hero­ism. You have sac­ri­ficed a lot for us. In 1961 some of us were barely walk­ing but today I can ad­dress you as my hero.

“Very few of our fathers could do what you did for us and we are very happy that we are cel­e­brat­ing a liv­ing leg­end.

“I want to chal­lenge most, es­pe­cially the mem­ber­ship of the branch, and say to all com­rades, be­sides nam­ing stat­ues and all that. What else can we do for com­rade Ike Maphoto,” he asked.

Born at Ga-Mak­gatho in Sen­wabar­wana on Fe­bru­ary 26, 1931, Maphoto left the coun­try for ex­ile in 1952. He spent years in ex­ile in coun­tries such as Rus­sia and Tan­za­nia, where he re­ceived mil­i­tary train­ing and oc­cu­pied senior po­si­tions within the ANC’s then mil­i­tary wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).

He was cap­tured by the Rhode­sian Army in Zim­babwe and handed a death sen­tence. The sen­tence was later con­verted to life after Robert Mu­gabe took over as Zim­bab­wean pres­i­dent.

For some, like ANC Youth League leader at the Ike Maphoto Branch, Mahlatse Kobe, Maphoto’s birth­day was an op­por­tu­nity to rem­i­nisce about the vet­eran politi­cian’s brav­ery and old days.

“In 1961, when you were in your 20s, what were you think­ing? What pro­pelled you to say, as that or­gan­i­sa­tion said in its pre­am­ble, there comes a time for a na­tion to de­cide: you ei­ther sub­mit or you fight. And him and his friends chose the lat­ter,” Kobe said.

“What is on his mind when he stayed there, on hung pal, un­til Mu­gabe took over and the sen­tence was con­verted to life?”

An­other female com­rade said Maphoto re­mained a source of in­spi­ra­tion for many in and out­side the rul­ing party.

“On this oc­ca­sion we re­flect and ac­claim your con­tri­bu­tion to hu­man­ity and draw in­spi­ra­tion as we con­tinue with the strug­gle against hunger, poverty and dis­ease,” she said.

The oc­ca­sion was punc­tu­ated by strug­gle-re­lated mu­sic, in­clud­ing strug­gle vet­eran Miriam Makeba’s song, “Aluta Con­tinua”, which served as one of the ral­ly­ing points for black re­sis­tance against the apartheid regime in the 1980s.

After his re­lease from prison in Zim­babwe, Maphoto re­turned home and served as an MPL, and head of the Lim­popo Premiers Bur­sary, among oth­ers. For­mer Pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki be­stowed on him one of the coun­try’s high­est hon­ours.

Pic­tures : Le­bo­gang Mak­wela / Vis­ual Buz­zSA

Strug­gle hero and ANC vet­eran Bra Ike Maphoto at his 88th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion in Polok­wane.

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