Tribute to Comrade Big Moss

Rest in Peace, Big Moss?

When you join the struggle, you are already putting your life at risk at that very point in time. Because in every struggle, there is a dividing line of motive forces… forces for and forces against every move you take. I know for a fact that the late mayor of Collins Chabane municipality Moses Maluleke became a member of the African National Congress some time back when the political landscape was a faint silhouette of what it is today. During that time, there were risks and dangers associated with being a comrade what today, freedom later, it is still as unsafe as sleeping in a lion’s den to be a leader.

Mayor Big Moss Maluleke – Pic facebook

It is even more dangerous today during the so-called democracy and freedom because the terrain has shifted – you have friends and foes outside but also inside the kamer, sitting with you on the same table. I must be understood clearly here that I am not pointing fingers but I am simply stating a probability that is humanly possible because it is human nature to hate, be hated, love and be loved.

The spear has fallen. We have been taught to accept death with its painful pangs and tread on with this madness that we call life. We are taught that when someone that is endeared to us falls like this, we must celebrate their life. Even in a case like this one where the cause is wanton shooting, where a father and his son were mercilessly tortured with gunfire, we must celebrate. One soul is gone, and the other is fighting for its life. The sad part is that the child always looks up to his or her father as the be-all-and-end-all. If we were to toss our thoughts around, we can conclude that if the assailants could have gained access to the house, they could have shot at anyone inside there. In short, it will be that when the dust has settled, the rest of the family will be left to deal with grief, trauma and fear of uncertainty. Only a speedy arrest of the culprits can help alleviate some of the fear.

So, in this kind of reckless show of cruel power where we kill parents in front of their children, or the other way round, then we must realize that this has gone way too far.

But then, amid the grief, we hope that the family will be comforted to see how all and sundry is aggrieved. We hope the family will find solace seeing how everyone is bringing in condolences in all forms. The widow and the children of Big Moss will find solace in seeing that they share this loss with the community of Xikundu, the community of Collins Chabane, as well as society at large.

My own memories of Big Moss are far and wide. We worked together at Shikundu High School until I left in the mid-90’s. We served together when the first branch of the ANC was established at Xikundu. We used to joke about the speech of ex-combatant of Umkhonto we Sizwe, John Thabo, in one political education gathering organized by Collins Chabane (may both’s souls continue to rest in peace). John Thabo was outlining the history and activities of MK when he burst into a tirade saying, “1964 Mkhonto a ba! 1965 a ba Mkhonto! 1966 Mkhonto a ba! 1967 a ba Mkhonto…!” This was reference to bombings on state institutions.
We also used to quote with reminiscence statements made by the elder that we adored, Charles Berly Nkuna (may his soul continue to rest in peace), that the statements and actions of the apartheid generals in 1976 “unleashed unprecedented mass anger.”

Big Moss was an ardent Orlando Pirates supporter and he was known as Mkandawire during his soccer playing days. This was a nickname from Orlando Pirates player Mkandawire. I at times wondered how they managed to sustain a long-hauled friendship with Joseph Marhekere Mabasa who was a Kaizer Chiefs supporter. I got the lesson in confirmation of that feat from one beautiful poem that although “east is east, and west is west, and never shall the twain meet, two men one from the east and one from the west can meet, and …”

Big Moss, you will be sorely missed. Rest in peace Mun’wanati, wa Gunyule, wa Xixangaxive, wa Macimba-ya-tihuku-yo-lema rihlelo-pferetetee, wena Mudyi-wa-bangu, wena Muhloti-wa-tindlofu, wena wo dlaya ndlopfu hi mpaxa, wena mafula-hi-xivuri-u-tshika-nyundzu, wena wa ka timamba-a-ti-luvani-ti-luvana-hi-mincila, wena wa ka tindlopfu-a-ti-luvani-ti-luvana-hi-mixakwa, wena Maluleke wo luleka na nambu wa N’wanati, wena wa nkala na visi bya wona!
Mhayekee! Mun’wanati!

Denis Salane is the resident of Hlengani village of Xikundu and the longstanding comrade of the late Big Moss

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