Searatoa van Driel

By Searatoa van Driel


Hi everybody, thank you

I want to start where my mother ended and start with gratitude, the gratitude we feel for all the people who have been there for us in this difficult time and also before, when my father fell ill.

The greater gratitude that we feel I think, towards the family that formed him and also the choices that he made also, the gratitude that he felt towards the people who made him and gave him the space to be whom he chose to be. I think the choices he made in his life was passing that on, was sharing what he was given with as many people as he could. I think comrade Siya mentioned how thankful he was that I shared my father with so many people.

I think for a long time when I was younger, I didn’t want to have anything to do with this activism thing, this politics thing. I would spend weekends and after school, we would be in meetings, or there’s a CG, and I think the anger maybe, the feeling of you know, this person, my loved one is being stolen from me, I felt in many ways as a young person in those young years, but I think as I grew to know him as an adult I began to understand firstly that he didn’t belong to me, he didn’t belong to us, he belonged to the world he chose to live his life where lived it and his generosity of spirit. I think we all know him in so many ways with all the different instances of his generosity of spirit, was an extension of the work that he did.

So as I began to understand that he didn’t belong to me. I also began to understand that what he shared with me by me sharing with everyone else actually made me much richer. This world view that he gave me and that many people have spoken about is an orientation of the working class, that a life worth living is a life of struggle for the working class, that our redemption lies or the redemption of society lies, in the redemption of the working class and that only the working class itself can redeem and liberate itself. And, if we wanted to live a full life, this is what it meant in many ways for him. And I think he showed it to us, it wasn’t just meetings and politics it was music and it was dancing. I don’t know if people can remember how he used to dance and get low down. I don’t think any of us realised just how low he could get; his love for food, his love for wine and all the beautiful things that life has to offer. He grabbed it, he enjoyed it and he shared it with all of us.

Many have spoken of his laughter and how it really comforts, that love of life and that he never lost it. Even till the end, the curiosity, the youthfulness and I think in many ways that’s how he engaged us as young activist, as Siya was speaking. As young activists who still have very confused ideas, as he would say, trying to make sense of the world, but also making the choice to fight against the injustices we saw. At the time it was #fees must fall and #Rhodes must fall, the fallist movement. But I think the respect that he had for us despite what we would say were ill-conceived ideas but that we had the willingness to engage us, and he debated us and he would explain that through the engagement with our own positions and our own politics would be clarified. He enjoyed the debates as much as we did and the new angles that the youth would look into because he own position would be clarified even further.

I think one of the other things that he gave to us is the idea of the collective and how it hold us. This moment really speaks to that, in many of the different instances in his life, he always strove to work in a collective with other people without leaving anybody behind. He never went off on his own, he always believed that we work in a collective, building something together and that’s how we worked through it all.

So I think I want to maybe just end in saying that we launched his website last month and I think the biggest momentum and I think many have spoken about this is how Marxism in this country was mis-constitute and he wished, in that launch and his writings, in us publishing his writings to pass it on to a new generation and to see it flourish and to see more than the Marxism I think, more than a tendency. I think it’s the commitment to the life of struggle for the working class and I think that was one of the things that we all will remember.

Also one of his greatest strengths was his courage, the courage of his convictions and to walk the line of his convictions that he believed and knew. I think all of us have said it in certain senses how, in our arguments with him, yes we ended up being defeated in the argument and we thought it’s just his being Oupa again, just being my dad. ,

In the end, in the long view of history we see how so many of his analyses and his insights, and so many of his instincts, how true they were. What I wish for myself, what I wish for other young activist who knew him, who admire him, is that we take his courage and we let it fortify us.
Me and him always spoke about the unfinished business that we have as fallists. As the working class, we owe it to him, and we owe it to ourselves as young activists, as young comrades, to finish the fight. There is very much to be done. I think he was brilliant but he also worked hard, he buckled down and it was the slog day in and the day out. That’s what we saw that’s what he taught us together with Community Healthcare Workers, that we were not going to get permanence over- night but it was going to ten-dual fair in many senses and It was the courage to stick to ones convictions and the necessity to stay the course.

I want to end with what cde Eva spoke about, how he was the water and that even though it disappeared it seeped into the soil. I think it’s such a beautiful metaphor because it also speaks to the seeds that are to grow. the flame that he was in his last years with all the different kinds of young activist the flame that he was trying to re-candle and I hope that you take that forward

Thank you again very much for all the love, to everybody, and gratitude. Thank you.

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