PROFESSOR ES’KIA MPHAHLELE – 17 December 1919 – 28 October 2008
MME REBECCA MPHAHLELE – 17 August 1920 – 04 December 2004
GATHER AFRIKANS GATHER
Dear Prof and Mama Mphahlele
Born one hundred years ago; just eight months apart, your lifelong embrace was my privilege to behold; as though you were born one. And yet, for me, you were dissimilar personalities whose parenting, I too benefitted from. This short essay was not the plan for December 2019. As I write, I do so with the deep sense that you are aware of all that has reduced us to just this. Far too often, as I go about in this physical form, I sense your presence, your guidance.
Mama, when you passed in 2004, we had not yet secured funding for the building of The Es’kia Institute. Friday 10 December 2010 at 9h05 was our most exciting day. We received notification, by way of an email. The National Lotteries Board confirmed our grant of R46,678,123.00 (forty-six million, six hundred and seventy-eight thousand, one hundred and twenty-three rand). NLB Project Number: 35454, as you know, did not come easy Prof. We shared our struggles with you. You may remember, the NLB insisted that we secure land, before they grant us the funding. We worked hard and secured two donated sites, one in Polokwane and the other in Soweto.
That glorious Tuesday 29 October 2002 at the Vodaworld Auditorium comes to mind now. The launch of our first book ES’KIA coincided with the launch of The Es’kia Institute. Under the theme GATHER AFRIKANS GATHER, about five hundred, South African luminaries gathered because, they too, were, “inspired by the life and works of Es’kia Mphahlele.”
You will remember our major funders for that evening were ESKOM, through Chairman Reuel Khoza, the Limpopo Provincial Government, through Premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi and the National Arts Council, through John Kani. Prof, somewhere, deep in our now disrupted archives, are the many glowing praises in honour of your contribution to Afrika and the world. (By the way Mama, for the record, very few people know that my first visit to Lebowakgomo had nothing whatsoever to do with your beloved intellectual husband. It was you who asked for my assistance with your funding proposal for your Early Learning Childhood Centre. Zeke, as you often boasted, came later with his request for assistance to publish his old papers.)
Throughout our time together you were generous in conveying gratitude. Prof, there are very few pensioners who, at 83, will complain of retirement and even fewer will take on the task of learning to use a computer, rather than stick to a typewriter. Lebowakgomo, you often said, took you out of the intellectual engagement you yearned for. It should not be difficult to compile a record of your engagements after 29 October 2002. Pretoria renamed their library in the Sammy Marks building, The Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library and changed DF Malan Drive to Es’kia Mphahlele Drive. We published ES’KIA Continued. Where is that scrapbook of press clippings, we gave you as a present on some or other special occasion?
THE APARTHEID MUSEUM®
Prof, Mama, I must, unfortunately move past our joyous celebrations together and update you on the violence and destitution that has befallen us. Today, I especially want to apologise for the fact that The Es’kia Institute, has since been gutted. I owe an explanation that I hope you will understand. I will be short, because, after Prof threw my first draft manuscript into the dustbin and told me to start from scratch, I revisited our confrontation with Gold Reef City Casino and published a more detailed account in 2011, under the title:
We look at White people and we think Oh! MY GOD!
The TRUE story of two racist White men and The Apartheid Museum
In November 2001, REUEL KHOZA, as Chairman of Gold Reef City Casino with JOHN KANI, employed by the casino, orchestrated the blatant lie that “Solly and Abe Krok conceived The Apartheid Museum.” South African and international media played that blatant lie worldwide. Prof, your contribution to our prospectus, published in 1998 reads:
“When we can assemble here, under this multi-dimensional “dome”, when we can commune among ourselves, feel one another, seek one another out, across the barriers of the philistines and ogres of our recent past who manipulated so much of our history; when we can restore the sense of beauty and selfhood, the community our forefathers enjoyed, we can rightly inhabit this mini-city in the profoundest sense of the word. That is, we can share in the joy of an environment in which we ourselves shall be the human dimension, the social dynamic propelled by that sense of becoming itself a compulsive act of cultural wholeness. Surely herein lies the answer, applicable to all in this country. Thus, we shall breed the unifying content of our character into the enterprise, give it our own life”
Come 2013, we had been in litigation with Gold Reef City Casino for eleven years. We had investigated and uncovered almost every detail of their transnational fraud, proving also that they worked in collusion with criminal cadres deployed by the African National Congress in organs of state, including the judiciary. To bring an end to the litigation, they devised a savage scheme, to cut off my primary source of income. Gold Reef City Casino, in a secret meeting with the National Lotteries Board and the South African Police, concocted an unbelievable story about how I, as Chief Executive Officer and Trustee, had stolen R9Million of the first tranche of R13Million that was paid to The Es’kia Institute. To this day, nobody can explain why they never brought this enormous “theft” to the attention of the Board of The Es’kia Institute. More seriously, in terms of the Public Finance and Management Act, the NLB is duty-bound to have me charged; if indeed I stole R9Million. Six years later – nothing.
REUEL KHOZA and JOHN KANI not only destroyed The Es’kia Institute Prof; they rendered destitute the families that depended on us. Mama, they engineered and drove the violence against innocent women and children, who were totally unconnected to the affairs of The Apartheid Museum. Reuel and John became aware of my intention to sue Gold Reef City Casino for infringement of my registered trademark in August 2002. Given what we know today, their funding of our launch in October 2002 and their very loud praises, play out as the deceitful filth of their White Zionist Masters; Solomon and Abraham Krok.
Poet Laurette, Don Materra wrote the foreword for ES’KIA. It is perhaps appropriate that I end my report with his view on the story of The Apartheid Museum.
“An intriguing yet most enlightening and powerful read so far Michael, soaked in and seeping in the brine of justified anger and the pain of being victim to criminal and racist skulduggery of the dirtiest gutter kind. For those of us with sentient souls, the tale unfolds. I now understand why your hands shake so much.”
Prof, Mama, we all love you, and for my part, until my last breath, it will be the same call:
GATHER AFRIKANS GATHER . . . we have much more work to do.