The African National Congress (ANC) dips its revolutionary banner in honour of Dr Abram “Abbey” Nkomo, a veteran and stalwart of our struggle for freedom, a humanitarian and selfless servant of the people of our country. He passed on yesterday after a long illness.
Death has robbed the people of South Africa of one of its finest sons who valued the freedom of his people more than his own life and personal comfort. Dr Nkomo dedicated his entire life to the struggle for freedom and justice. He belonged to that generation of freedom fighters who were prepared to pay the ultimate price in pursuit of the liberation of the people of South Africa.
He joined the struggle for liberation at a very tender age. He cut his political teeth in the ANC Youth League prior to its banning, and was a key student activist at the universities of Fort Hare and Natal.
Dr Nkomo was the founding Chairperson of the Atteridgeville Saulsville Residents Association (ASRO). He was also at the forefront of the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF). During the 1980s, the UDF helped to unite all progressive forces behind the vision of a free, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. Dr Nkomo and other UDF leaders helped to keep the Congress tradition and vision of the Freedom Charter alive at a time when the liberation movement was banned.
This veteran of our struggle became a target of the apartheid security forces because of his commitment to the liberation of the people of South Africa. His house and surgeries in Atteridgeville were bombed by enemy agents and was also detained during the state of emergency. Despite this well-orchestrated campaign of persecution and callus brutality, Dr Nkomo never retreated nor wavered. He remained resolute in his commitment to confront the injustices of apartheid.
Dr Nkomo contributed enormously to the downfall of apartheid and was one of the architects of our new democracy. Following the 1994 democratic breakthrough, Dr Nkomo served as a Member of the National Assembly where he served as Chairperson of the Health Portfolio Committee. He also served as Ambassador to Malaysia and Canada.
The people of our country will treasure his memory as one of our most distinguished sons who consciously chose to fight a cruel and inhumane system at a time when it was extremely dangerous to do so, and when he could have chosen to live a comfortable life as a medical doctor.
The ANC sends its heartfelt condolences to his family, comrades and the entire mass democratic movement. We hope they will find solace in the knowledge that the whole nation shares in their grief. We wish them strength and fortitude during this difficult time.