It is with great sadness that comrades of the CPGB-ML learned of the death of our comrade, Khwezi Kadalie, who succumbed after a long, tenacious and dignified struggle with liver cancer.
We mourn his loss deeply, as we mourn the loss of our own family member – for although Comrade Khwezi lived and worked in South Africa, he dedicated his life not only to the cause of the liberation of the South African masses, but to the struggle for the emancipation of workers of all countries.
Death comes to each of us, but Khwezi will live on in the hearts and minds of those of us who knew, loved and respected him; and in the struggle of all who raise their hands and voices to oppose and overthrow the system of exploitation of man by man and nation by nation.
Our party comrades have had long and close ties with Khwezi, who regularly contributed reports and analysis to the anti-imperialist journal Lalkar, and to our party’s paper Proletarian since our founding congress in 2004.
In 2010, Khwezi and his wife Nellie hosted a delegation of Red Youth, who came to attend the 17th World Festival of Youth and Studentsin Pretoria. During the day, we shared experience with progressive youth from across Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. In the evenings, we shared food and drink and political discussion with our generous hosts, who took us into their family.
We had the opportunity to meet Zimbabwean comrades and hear of their experiences in redistributing land expropriated by European colonial settlers, returning it to the land-hungry masses. Their fiery speeches – and ours – met a rapturous reception from the young South-African and international delegates.
We travelled with Khwezi, his daughters and comrades of the Marxist Workers School to the East Rand, where we saw that despite the benefits brought by the freedom struggle, there is a struggle still to be waged – here as elsewhere – to return the wealth of South Africa to the working masses, as envisaged by the Freedom Charter.
This was the goal for which Khwezi had dedicated his life – during the armed struggle, and in the 20 years since victory – and for which dream he refused all personal privilege and shunned compromise. Neither threats to his life nor promises of gain induced him to give up this noble cause.
Khwezi came to Europe in 2011, visiting his German comrades and then touring Britain. He spoke at a series of packed meetings, organised by our party and Red Youth, so that he could share his experience of the liberation struggle with politically-conscious British workers.
All who met him and heard him speak were touched by his infectious and optimistic spirit, his fervour and dedication to the cause, tempered and sustained by his rational and scientific socialist understanding.
In every sense, Khwezi was a tried, tested and honoured member of our revolutionary family, and we were grateful to be given the opportunity to pay tribute to his revolutionary life by sending a message to be read at his funeral. It is fitting, and our hearts are gladdened to hear, that he will now rest together with many of the comrades alongside whom he waged the armed struggle to free South Africa from the dark days of Apartheid; not far from the final resting place of Comrades Joe Slovo, Helen Joseph and Lillian Ngoyi.
As a young man, Khwezi demonstrated his opposition to the political oppression of the racist colonial apartheid system, which profited from the cheap labour of black South Africans. These workers laboured in the country’s mines, factories and fields to produce fabulous profits for the capitalist and imperialist ruling class, while barely affording a living to themselves, the real producers and rightful owners of South Africa’s wealth.
Comrade Khwezi took an active role in the student movement and found himself arrested during the Soweto uprising of June 1976, subsequently being detained and tortured for several months. He was inspired by the black consciousness movement, and was due to meet with Steve Biko, but events conspired against them and, shortly after Khwezi’s release, Steve was captured and murdered by the Apartheid reactionaries.
Far from being cowed by his experience, soon after his release Comrade Khwezi sought voluntary exile in order to join MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe), and gain military training in the frontline states, understanding that force was the only logic that could make its mark on these arrogant and ignorant oppressors, infected as they were by their supremacist ideology.
In the course of his training, he was seconded to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), then in exile in Lebanon. He forged enduring ties and deep respect for the cause of the Palestinian people in their struggle against the racist and supremacist zionist state of Israel – which he understood to be another apartheid regime, in the heart of the oil-rich Middle East, and another front line of the global battle against the rapacious and bloodthirsty rule of monopoly capitalist imperialism.
In the 1980s, he was attached to the ANC office in London, before returning to South Africa after the unbanning of the ANC to help secure its electoral victory in 1994 that marked the final victory over apartheid.
A noble son of the Russian revolution, Nikolai Ostrovsky, who gave his life to fight the reactionaries and build a bright socialist future, penned the following brief but beautiful lines, which are a fitting tribute to the life of our comrade, Khwezi Kadalie, one of the finest sons of South Africa and the international proletariat that it has been our honour and privilege to know:
“Man’s dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world – the fight for the liberation of mankind.” (How the Steel Was Tempered, 1936)[sup]1[/sup]
Khwezi’s passing fills us, his family, comrades and loved ones, with sorrow, but we can rejoice in knowing that he lived a meaningful life, true to this sacred pledge – and we renew our vow to follow the same example.
We send him our final red salute! Power to the people! Amandla!
How the Steel Was Tempered is available to read in two parts via the website of the Communist Party of Australia: cpa.org.au/resources/cpa-presents/how-the-steel-was-tempered-book-1.pdf and cpa.org.au/resources/cpa-presents/how-the-steel-was-tempered-book-2.pdf. .