Photo: By Xola Tyamzashe
Photo: By Xola Tyamzashe

The measure of a man is not how he died, but how he lived his life…Not what he gained, but what he gave. The greatest thing in life is to live for a purpose.

The warrior that will be buried on Saturday 25 January 2014, for his deserved terrestrial rest and his celestial honour and glory beyond the grave, conferred on him by his Creator and Heavenly Father through that unique Person in all history who conquered death, and said to those who believe like this African warrior did, “I am the resurrection, and the life: He that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live….” (John 11:25); is Bishop Lesaoana Caleb Makhanda. He was a freedom fighter for this country and Africa, since he was a Pan Africanist. He was a Diplomat and a Prophet. This is a man who could without blinking say, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God: Whom I shall see for myself and my eye shall behold, and not another.” (Job 14:25-27).

I knew this African patriot during my days at the United Nations in New York where I was an accredited representative of the victim of apartheid colonialism in South Africa (Azania). I found him energetic, hard-working person and a dedicated fighter to the liberation of African people and mankind. He was a reliable person, a man of integrity with a high sense of duty. I became acquainted with his spiritual life after he retired from his posting as Ambassador to five countries in West Africa where he was appointed by the late President Nelson Mandela.

Bishop Makhanda was a remarkable person. He always pursued whatever he did with tenacity of purpose and pertinacity of will. This was demonstrated in his early life. He was involved in the Sharpeville Uprising led by the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) under the leadership of Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe. He was the youngest prisoner for the Sharpeville Uprising, along with his friends Dr.Thami Mazwai and Dr.Joe Tlholoe. When Makhanda was released from jail he left the country for military training to fight against apartheid colonialism. The PAC assigned him to various posts including the United Nations one. He served with distinction in all of them. It looks like everything he touched was bound to succeed, yet he remained a very humble man. Even after he served as a distinguished Ambassador with title such as “Your Excellency” “His Exellency,” he remained a humble servant of the people. To him leadership was to be a servant of the people, not a master.

I think it is important to point out that this Bishop Lesaoana Caleb Makhanda has come a long way of a regiment of warriors. It is not an accident that he served the liberation of our people with remarkable dedication, which no one could question. The man known as “Makana the left- handed” is his ancestor. Makana (real name Makhanda) was an African warrior and a prophet. He led the 1819 war of national resistance against British colonialism in South Africa. He stormed the British garrison of Grahamstown (eRHINI isexeko seNgwele) on 25th December 1819. Historians say Makana “the left-handed” as they called him, maintained a strong interest in Christian faith, combining it with elements of African beliefs. He was a commander as well as a military advisor to King Ndlambe. He was arrested by the British colonial government after the war he led and imprisoned in Robben Island in 1820. He died in 1821 by drowning when he tried to escape from Robben Island and lead the liberation struggle of his people. Makana was recognised as a national hero in this country in January 2013. Bishop Makhanda was there to witness the honour bestowed on his ancestor after 194 years since he departed from this planet.

Bishop Makhanda, like his ancestor, became not only political a freedom fighter but a spiritual leader – a prophet. He had a vision which is known to those who were close to him. His death should not be considered as “a blow” to this vision. You can kill a visionary, but you cannot kill his or her vision. You can burn grass, but you cannot burn its roots. You can kill thinkers, but you cannot kill their ideas. We should not be intimidated. We must not fail Bishop Makhanda’s vision. It is good for our nation. It is good for Africa. It is good for mankind. It must triumph no matter how dark it may be and whatever the challenges. The greatest honour we can confer on Bishop Makhanda is the realisation of his vision. He was a great lover of knowledge. He wanted every African to have knowledge because knowledge is power and liberates a nation.

Every adversity, every heart ache carries the seed of a greater benefit. I suppose that is the reason that great English writer, William Shakespeare said, “Sweet are the uses of adversity which like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in its head.” Those evil men who murdered Bishop Lesaoana Caleb Makhanda have won a cowardly perfidious battle. We must win the war. There is nothing invincible like a vision, called “utopia” today, and flesh and blood tomorrow. There is no crisis that was never a blessing in disguise if harnessed. Life’s greatest achievements are those that look impossible.

By Dr. Motsoko Pheko


  1. Thank you very much, Dr Pheko, for the words of comfort and encouragement on Comrade Kindo’s passing. It was a painful scene last Friday morning (17 January 2013) to watch as his lifeless body was taken away by the SAPS forensic pathology services. Makhanda had his heart in the right place and he always made himself and his premises in Walkerville available to assist and support any progressive initiative that Africanists undertook. I often called on him to discuss and share ideas on everything intellectual, material and spiritual. He too entrusted me with his personal matters despite the age gap.

    I was with him in the PAC’s national executive committee during the 1992 to 1994 term. The NEC held a meeting in September 1993 to debate participating in the Transitional Executive Authority that held the powers to run the country ahead of the general elections in April of 1994. The quality of the discussions degenerated into a for-and-against match, and even became acrimonious. After that Cde Makhanda called me to the side to evaluate the implications of the decision to stay out of the TEC. We had almost 25 000 of our fighting forces in the camps and on the ground without back up support of the developments emanating from the joint command and control of the TEC; we had our exiled legion vulnerable to exclusion from the home going project; we would not participate in nominating representative IEC commissioners; we were recklessly defying the recommendations of our friends and comrades in the OAU and Non Aligned movement; and were in fact going against the grain of the PAC delegation’s successful lobby to set up an independent transitional authority to monitor the preparations for the general elections. We went back to the National Working Committee and the NEC to convince them otherwise. We were both sent to represent the PAC at the TEC in March of 1994. I worked with army matters and went on to pave the way for the integration of APLA into the new defense force. Cde Makhanda handled diplomatic issues and the IEC.

    Consulted by former APLA commanders to help with a short-list of freedom fighters due for honors in the Gauteng province a few years back, I included Cde Kindo in a list of ten. Conservative elements who pay their allegiance to an individual rather than the principle and the Party, vehemently disagreed with his inclusion and with taking part in a government event. We went ahead nevertheless.

    Yes, Cde Makhanda’s major strong point was the visions that he held. He would unflinchingly state his various scenarios and never strayed from reporting even the bad news. For this he was a brave and courageous son of the soil. May his family and loved ones accept our heartfelt condolences.

    1. Comrade, I worked with comrade Kindo at PAC. Office to the UN.. He is like a brother to me. What a wonderful person to have worked with. Very humble and helpful. He was an excellent mentor to me. Your observations of him are so accurate. What a loss !

  2. It was an honor and a blessing to have Bishop Makhanda mentor me fr the past 12 years. I wish more sons of Africa could find mentors of his kind.

    As Dr Pheko has said; he was not a man of titles in spite of all his contribution to our country.

    The one thing that was left in me is the determination of Bishop Makhanda to honor his calling as father more than any other title that could fit him. He was forever a father to every son and daughter who was ready to continue with the cause of emancipating the African people.

    He honored his God given dream and did not betray it. As a prophet he was never too old to be fathered and mentored. He did not want to take anyone to a journey he has not traveled.

    I have asked myself why his passing on was not published in our South African media; I discovered that here lies a hero who has never been quoted on any corrupt activity as a servant of the people in this country. I am sure that had there been any corrupt thing his passing would be known.
    We have not lost hope however for the Lord has comforted us through continuing with the work that Bishop has begun.
    Thanking Dr Pheko and Comrade Jaki Seroke for letting the country know about the beautiful selfless contribution of Bishop Makhanda.

    Vanto Vanto

  3. I never had an opportunity to meet him, but I am blessed to know Him as my cousin.

  4. Comrade kindo , rest in peace. We will really miss you. To the Family, lalani ngenxeba ma Afrika.

  5. Comrade Pheko, thank you ntate for the kind words about our fallen comrade.

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