As South Africa is being engulfed by dark clouds of political uncertainty, social disorder, economic meltdown and rampant corruption, one has to continue to look for glimpses of hope. The hope that our nation is still sane, intact and that it can be saved.
South Africans across the length and breadth of our land are experiencing a mood of despair and general helplessness as our rulers plunge our country into social decay.
This they do in order to divert the nation’s attention and to cover their incompetence and weaknesses. They have resorted to racially polarising our people in order to cling to power, far worse than even the apartheid rulers.
One such moment of hope, ironically, occurred to me at a funeral service of a retired nurse, Nombali Nomhentsu Ngcayisa, the wife of Mqondiso, both well-known personalities in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, and stemming from noble stock within the black community. She died two weeks ago at the age of 68.
The three-hour funeral service took place at the Arthur Wellington Methodist Church in New Brighton last Friday, and was conducted by the superintendent of the PE North Circuit, the Reverend S Mazaleni.
The hope arises when one interacts with men and women of great substance, people who made their names by serving the community in various areas.
Scanning the church and seeing the people carrying surnames that made our society great and dignified left me with the hope that not all is lost. These people include the families of Pepetha, Nzo, Nkanunu, Xundu, Duze, Somyalo, Vantyi and many others.
These people served our communities in times of darkness in education, sport, politics and business. During those days there was social cohesion. People were united, because they had leaders who defined themselves accurately and set high standards. Today our standard bearers are disgracing us daily.
Sitting in those pews and listening to the speeches, the singing and the sermon was a moment of conscious revival and the revitalisation of confidence in my society, people and country. My hope that our country can be saved was enhanced.
The funeral attracted all sectors of our society, poor and rich, literate and illiterate, believers and non-believers, so-and-so.
Nomhentsu comes from the influential and well-known Pemba family. The deceased was the daughter of Jimmy, a businessman, and her mother was from the iconic and revered Soga family, who originated from Thuthura, a village in Butterworth.
The calibre of the mourners was to a great extent not only as a result of Nomhentsu’s reputed beauty and intelligence, nor the fact that she was a member of a famous, titled family – it was more because of her service to the people of this region as a dedicated nurse.
The presence of many serving and retired nurses was testament to the high esteem in which they held her.
According to her colleague and friend, Lungisa Tuta, Nomhentsu was “a quality person of note”. Tuta took us to the days when Livingstone Hospital was the centre of excellence, when a team of dedicated nurses and doctors saved lives, cared for and loved patients. Ngcayisa “served patients with humility”, Tuta concluded.
Thobeka Mjojeli, who worked with Ngcayisa at the Trauma and Emergency Services, said that her late colleague never looked at her watch while there was still a job to be done. She only used her watch to check the time to start work. She praised her for being exemplary at work with her “dress code”. Mjojeli said she was “passionate about quality care”.
As my mind is totally preoccupied with the destructive path that our country is taking, I keep on asking myself daily whether it is I who am insane, or just too negative, or merely a paranoid wreck. However, I emerge from my traumatic nightmare when I listen to people I know to be my role models and icons.
One can understand why this community took it upon themselves to go and pay their last respects to the child of this family. The Pembas served the Eastern Cape community for generations, in the form of community service and through the artistic contribution of the internationally acclaimed George Pemba.
On the other hand her maternal family, the Sogas, are the offspring of the great Xhosa clergyman Tiyo Soga, who, after qualifying in Scotland as a priest, composed the hymn Lizalis’ Idinga Lakho, (Fulfil Your Promise).
Anyone who reads and observes societal developments would ask themselves how it has happened that we find ourselves in a situation where we look like a lost, confused and generally despairing nation. This is especially so when you sit in a venue full of men and women who did such great deeds in the past to keep our people’s dignity and pride intact. As I looked around the full-to-capacity church, I saw the families of people who excelled and served the black community. Nomkhitha Nxu seemed to be on steroids as she nearly blew the rooftop of the big church off with her rendition of the Methodist national anthem Siyakudumisa, as Mazeleni was inviting senior clergy Ntshayana to seize the moment.
Ntshanyana did not disappoint, as he left no stone unturned, lamenting and warning about the destruction of our nation, especially through drug abuse by young people.
“Our children are on drugs, we have deviated. We have put God on the periphery of our lives,” he said. Turning to the choir, the veteran clergyman said their singing “got us close to feet of Christ. Lord keep them, so that they never lose Your blessing”.