At his funeral service in Kagiso, at the Kgosi Mogale Community Hall, the mourners celebrated a life well lived as they listened to family, friends and comrades tracing Sam Mosalagae Ditshego’s origins from the family tree of the Bakgatla clan and their great history and civilisation, to the broader African civilisation he so well espoused and articulated, inspired by the scholarly works of Senegalese Pan Africanist, Cheik Anta Diop.
The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania in its full representative numbers said in unison that Ditshego was most certainly one of its best products. He lived his entire political life with the discipline expected of a revolutionary Pan Africanist.
He used his razor sharp pen to articulate the principles of the PAC and used every available avenue in the public media space to write about his displeasures and his rectification of the wrongs and distortions that were in the public domain about the liberation organisation led by Mangaliso Sobukwe, Zephania Mothopeng, Mlamli Makwetu, Stanley Mmutlanyane Mogoba, Motsoko Pheko, Letlapa Mphahlele and Mzwanele Nyhontso.
His family sang his traditional praises and expressed their gratitude to him for the outstanding duties he had engaged in to bring them all together .
His two sons, Tshepo (35) and Tebogo (41), acknowledged his role as a liberated husband and father and they realised that their own upbringing were, in a practical sense,a vow of service to the African people,
a pledge of sacrificing whatever comforts made available to them at the time in exile for the central mission of the engaging in the national liberation struggle in occupied Azania,and adopting the standpoint of the suffering African majority in working for transformation and change of society.
His devoted wife and beautiful soul mate, Elsie Ditshego, nee Khaas, had her written message read on her behalf by her daughter-in-law. She movingly stated their love at first sight in Gaborone, Botswana, when they were in the trenches of the liberation struggle in exile in 1976, and how their affair blossomed brightly and beautifully, despite the hardships of being away from home soil, and the trials and tribulations they have both had to face and overcome together, until that fateful Saturday morning when Sam Ditshego couldn’t wake up in his matrimonial bed, isolated in line with Covid-19 first fourteen days quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Ditshego’s plastic-draped casket was interred slowly at his last resting place, with the protocols of the victims of Covid-19 observed in full. PAC and APLA burial ritual were also solemnly undertaken, at the heroes site of the Kagiso cemetery on the morning of Saturday, 24 October 2020.
And so did a beloved son of the soil, Sam Ditshego, physically depart from being among the fraternity of Pan Africanists and the Azanian masses that he consciously lived to serve wholeheartedly.
Ditshego held strong views on the conspiracy of secret powers in dingy places wielding their influence egregiously on the world’s political economy.
He referred to autobiographical narratives of former Central Intelligence Agency and the British MI6 operatives and directors on the coups and destabilisation missions they implemented in Africa, South East Asia and South America.
His indefatigable awareness campaign on the fate of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, an elected prime minister of the Congo and a revolutionary Pan Africanist who was murdered by a combination of the western super-powers. Lumumba’s body was incinerated with acid and other highly hazardous chemicals in 1962. It has recently resurfaced in world news headlines that one of Lumumba’s killers in France is willing to return his embalmed finger, that he had kept as a memento, back to the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Ditshego also raised concerns over Abram Onkgopotse Tiro, a SASO leader who was murdered with a parcel bomb in Botswana, that his killers were roaming around freely in so-called democratic South Africa without any punitive action taken by the powers that be.
His campaigns in the media are well documented. He defended the PAC leaders, particularly Robert Sobukwe and Zephania Mothopeng, whenever disparaging comments were made about them. He consistently championed the Africanist outlook on radio stations, op-ed pages of newspapers, debating forums and everywhere else the opportunity became available.
Ditshego was a chronicler of the struggle for truth and justice . He dedicated his political life for this single purpose.
He was also contrarian, in that he questioned the origins of the Human Immune-deficiency Virus that caused AIDS, and argued that it was part of the germ warfare to exterminate the increasing population of African people. His views were not far from those held by State President Thabo Mbeki. He would provide tomes of research evidence to make his point. He recently sent me references of “the fallacy” of coronavirus.
We held vigorous debates among ourselves as colleagues in the Pan Africanist Research Institute of Azania. Sam Ditshego is known for blinking repeatedly when he defended his theoretical inputs in an intense discussion. He was an organic intellectual, just as the Italian theoretician Anton Gramsci had defined it.
The last time we spoke extensively Ditshego narrated how he had held debates with epidemiologists and medical researchers in South Africa, who held contrary positions to what Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, was touting.
It is an ironic twist of fate that he died of Covid-19. He wrote opinion pieces in the Sunday Independent to contradict the official version of the coronavirus pandemic.
For Ditshego, no one was sacrosanct. He criticised the obvious defects in the conduct of some of the dangerously ambitious wannabes in the leadership of the PAC. He also warned of lack of revolutionary content in the public articulation of the PAC’s various positions. In doing this, he equally applied self-criticism to himself.
He however held fond regards for his political mentor, Comrade Sello Mike Matsobane. His brother, Bra Fox Moatshe Ditshego, kept us in stitches of laughter when he described their younger days and when he was telling how political opponents mistook him for his younger brother. This he said at Sam’s sixtieth birthday celebrations five years ago.
The two Ditshego brothers liked sipping their whiskey to reminisce and enjoy company of others. It is unfortunate that Bra Fox could not be at the funeral service because he is confined in hospital on Covid-19 conditions.
Sam Ditshego loved Mogale City and its denizens. He was the chronicler of the history of Munsieville, Kagiso and Randfontein. While he was an internationalist, he laid his roots deep in the Mogale City environment.
The Pan Africanist Research Institute of Azania, a think tank organisation linked to the PAC of Azania, mourns the death of Sam Mosalagae Ditshego and will forever keep him in remembrance.
By Jaki Seroke
The writer is the Chairperson of the Pan Africanist Research Institute (PARI) of Azania.