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South African fighters reburied in Nakaseke

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd February 2009 03:00 AM

A 36-year-old man descended into a grave, paced from the foot to the head then lay down in it before his twin brother’s coffin could be lowered there. This is a South African Sotho ritual conducted before the burial of a twin who dies before his sibling

A 36-year-old man descended into a grave, paced from the foot to the head then lay down in it before his twin brother’s coffin could be lowered there. This is a South African Sotho ritual conducted before the burial of a twin who dies before his sibling

By Anne Mugisa

A 36-year-old man descended into a grave, paced from the foot to the head then lay down in it before his twin brother’s coffin could be lowered there.

This is a South African Sotho ritual conducted before the burial of a twin who dies before his sibling. The living twin must lie in the grave first.

This was done on Sunday during the burial of the remains of African National Congress (ANC) fighters who were training in Uganda in the 1990s.

After leading the prayers and before mourners proceeded to the graves, a South African Lutheran priest, Pastor Joseph Maphatsoe, announced that the family of the twins wanted to perform the unique ritual.

The remains of six ANC combatants had been temporarily buried at Lusaze cemetery in Rubaga division, Kampala in 1990 and 1991.

Eight other ANC fighters had been buried in Kaweweta at what is now called the Oliver Reginald Tambo Leadership Institute.

Steven Makoena had to lie in the white-tiled grave of his brother Steve Thabo Makoena, who died on May 25, 1991.

The other combatants whose remains were reburied at Kaweweta were Zingisile Rock Manhenene, Vusi Shongwe, Themba Justice Palmer, Jongikhaya Msizi and Julian Barley.
Relatives travelled from South Africa to Kaweweta to witness the burial.

Christian hymns as well as songs and slogans from the freedom struggle characterised the service, conducted by the retired military clergy.

“Amandla” shouted speaker after speaker in the microphone, to which the rest of the South African audience responded “Iweena” followed by moving speeches about the cause of the struggle against apartheid.

The fighters were honoured with a three-gun salute.

The reburial was attended by hundreds of people who included families of UPDF soldiers and villagers from the surrounding areas.

The South African group occasionally broke into patriotic songs, reminiscent to the apartheid struggle.

The chief mourner was the South African minister of defence, Fezile Bhengu.

“You gave us shelter when we had nowhere to stay and love where nobody wanted us,” Bhengu said in appreciation of the role Uganda played.

Bhengu lamented that some people in South Africa had forgotten why they fought.

He disclosed that the African Union had directed someone to facilitate discussions between South Africa and other African countries where ANC fighters are buried for the possible repatriation of their remains.

Outgoing defence state minister Ruth Nankabirwa said Uganda feels that the fighters were a symbol of African patriotism and should be left where they were buried.

South African fighters reburied in Nakaseke

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