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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist


Aziz Pahad ‘a mentor to many’: Ramaphosa’s emotional eulogy

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered an emotional eulogy highlighting the late Aziz Pahad's significant contributions to South Africa.


Johannesburg’s Westpark Cemetery was the scene of mourning this Saturday morning as the nation bid farewell to anti-apartheid activist, Aziz Pahad.

The former deputy foreign affairs minister passed away last Wednesday evening at the age of 82.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was present to deliver the eulogy.

Great nations are built through the efforts of the courageous, the principled and the steadfast. Such was the man we bury today – President Cyril Ramaphosa

Aziz Pahad’s funeral

Earlier this week, Ramaphosa bestowed the honour of a Special Official Funeral Category 2. Pahad’s older brother, Essop, who passed away in July, received a similar honor.

Ramaphosa’s eulogy

President Ramaphosa painted a poignant picture of the loss felt not just by the Pahad family but also by the ANC, SA’s diplomatic community, and the wider democratic movement.


LIVE STREAM: SA bids farewell to Aziz Pahad


He said Pahad’s passing was particularly painful for his family, who had already lost sons Essop and Junaid.

Scenes from Aziz Pahad's funeral on 30 September at Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg
Scenes from Aziz Pahad’s funeral on 30 September at Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg. Photo: GCIS

Ramaphosa also described Pahad as a mentor to many in the diplomatic community, as well as an integral part of South Africa’s journey to democracy.

Struggles and legacy

Ramaphosa acknowledged Pahad as one of the pillars of the fight for liberation and democracy.

He emphasised how Pahad and other stalwarts of the liberation struggle served as roots which nourish the tree of South African democracy.

Scenes from Aziz Pahad's funeral on 30 September at Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg
Scenes from Aziz Pahad’s funeral on 30 September at Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg. Photo: GCIS

“These great men and women, of whom Aziz Pahad was one, were the roots that nourished the tree of our democracy. It feels as though a part of us has gone with them”, Ramaphosa said.

He added: “And yet, such were the legacies they left behind that this great tree that is our democracy, abides.” 

Pahad’s multifaceted contributions

Pahad was remembered not just for his activism, but also for his influential role in the ANC and his service as deputy minister of foreign affairs from 1994 to 2008.

“It is this role for which the South African people know him best”, Ramaphosa said.

Scenes from Aziz Pahad's funeral on 30 September at Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg
Scenes from Aziz Pahad’s funeral on 30 September at Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg. Photo: GCIS

“He was a prominent voice in the foreign affairs space, an astute diplomat, a legendary networker, and for the many who worked with him, a warm and affable colleague.”

Ramaphosa said Pahad played a crucial part in peacebuilding efforts both in Africa and the Middle East.

The president said: “In reflecting on his life and contribution, we should draw on the words of Islam’s Holy Book the Qur’an where it speaks about the virtue of steadfastness. 

“In chapter 16 verse 96 it says: ‘Whatever you have will end, but whatever Allah has is everlasting. And we will certainly reward the steadfast according to the best of their deeds’.”

Pahad’s commitment to the idea of servant leadership was also noted – Ramaphosa urged the nation to remember Pahad for his dedication to a greater cause rather than his own ego.

A brighter future

The president called attention to the need for South Africa to return to the path of transformation and uphold the values that leaders like Pahad fought for.

Scenes from Aziz Pahad's funeral on 30 September at Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg
Scenes from Aziz Pahad’s funeral on 30 September at Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg. Photo: GCIS

He continued: “To do so requires hard work. It demands sacrifice and putting the needs of the people first.

“It needs men and women disinterested in status and position, like Aziz Pahad and his generation.” 

The president underscored the importance of servant leadership and said that the stalwarts of South Africa’s liberation struggle should serve as a guide for future generations.

“In whatever role he was given, he showed steadfastness, self-reliance, commitment to a greater cause, lack of ego and principle”, Ramaphosa said.

He closed his tribute by offering his condolences to the Pahad family, assuring them that Aziz Pahad’s contributions would continue to illuminate the path of South Africa’s progress.


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