Dr. Irvin Khoza’s Eulogy to Dr.

Leepile Taunyane Date: Sunday 3 November 2013 Venue: Alexandra What qualifies anyone to say they really know someone else? We know our parent, brothers and sisters, and our children because of our continued sharing of space with them. We know our wives and comrades with whom we struggle, waking up together day in and day out fighting for the same cause. We know our work colleagues whom, although we might retire to different places at the days end, we share the most hours awake together. I have known Dr. Leepile Taunyane all my life. I was his student when he was a teacher, he recruited me at the tender age of fourteen to become the member of the Board of Control of the Alexandra Football Association, we later rubbed shoulders in the NPSL and SANFA, in his twilight years, an NSL Executive Committee I chaired, asked him to remain in the organisation for as long as he felt he could still make a contribution, this after honouring him with a much deserved Life Presidency. He was willing and able to make a contribution until the end of his great life. On Friday 27 October he started experiencing difficulties in breathing. I went to visit him at hospital on Tuesday 29 October. It was midday when I arrived. He was in the Intensive Care Ward. His eyes were permanently shut with the only movement occurring in his chest area as he was breathing with the aid of a machine. I spoke to him softly, like I have done in the last fifty years when I needed his counsel. About thirty minutes into my talking to him, the monitoring machines' alarm started flashing, an indication the nurse told me of brain activity. I could not help feeling this was the last time I was talking to him alive. I say talking to him alive because I know I will continue to talk to him until I reach the end of my journey on earth. He will forever live in my memory and soul. He personifies values that govern my decision making and actions, consciously and unconsciously. My usage of

tenses is deliberate, I am talking about him in the present, for his teachings, manner and manners are eternal. A lot of people have, except for their parents, heroes and role models that are distant from them. They admire and are inspired by them through the media. I have had a rare privilege of having from childhood, from age fourteen to be exact, a hero, mentor and role model that I could touch and talk to. I could ask him why he pursued a particular course of action. From our interactions I was formed as a man. Not all the lessons were verbal; in fact, most of them were through observation. Watching Dr. Taunyane in action was to a young impressionable Irvin Khoza, pronounce I-van by folk in Alexandra, like watching a movie. He had a way with words. His auditory skills were sharp irrespective of the language he was speaking. In fact, he switched languages with ease. He knew to say whatever it is he wanted to say in the language that has the best axiom to convey that message. He would for example preface the English axiom “You spare a rod you spoil a child”, with a Setswana adage, “Sepa la ntjwa, le ojwa le sa le metsi” – to adequately and effectively carry the message about shaping a child’s behaviour when it is young. It was from Dr. Taunyane’s command of the languages and ability to speak that my interest in education picked. This was not an easy choice, competing with Dr. Taunyane and his fine crop of fellow teachers, Teacher Harvey – the Mathematics genius; Mrs Mosala – “you fail vernacular, your mother tongue, you fail, that all I want you to know” – she would say this when we were not taking her Zulu lessons seriously; Mr Phefadi – he would recite his lessons bending his knees slightly when he reached a crescendo; Mr Mathabathe – who emphasized the superior resource a human being is, in the days when it was still called ‘personnel’ and ‘manpower’ he used the term ‘human resources’ before it was fashionable. Ladies and Gentlemen you saw and heard a gentleman earlier in the programme, a colleague of Dr. Taunyane, a fine gentleman, English teacher, well dressed and true personification of order, progress and discipline, Mr. Lesley Makhothi. They Ladies and Gentlemen gave education a good name. We tried to emulate everything they did, how they spoke, how they wrote, how they stood and walked, how they gesticulated. The cause fought for and won by Dr Taunyane, Makhothi and the fine crop of teachers in that era, was

complementary and most of the time joined forces with the noble cause of freedom waged by the giants of Alexandra – Kotane, Mandela, Nkobi, Madzunya, Nzo, Nhlanhla, Bam, Shope, Zanele Dlamini later Mbeki a cause that produced Mashatile, and Bapela to name a few. Their role modelling had stiff competition in the form of Gangsters. Their snazzy dressing, the flashy American long base cars with whitewall tyres, the beautiful tall and slender women displaying high fashion; it was stiff competition indeed. Stiff as the competition from the gangsters was, the cause championed by Dr Taunyane prevailed. We today have lifelong lessons not only from the causes he championed but from the manner in which he went about championing these causes. As we gather here to pay our respect and reminisce on a life well and purposefully lived. I would like to touch on a few of these causes, his manner and manners. I do so in no particular order. I have never, in the fifty plus years that I have known him, seen him being intimidated. The all-powerful gangsters knew better, not to interrupt even one of the matches we played in a field opposite their headquarters in Alexandra. Instead they tried to be in his good books. They often tried to convince him of their role in an unequal society of apartheid. It was in his interactions with them that you would hear the depth of his knowledge and command of the Afrikaans language. He stood his ground with the State as he did the gangsters. His founding of TUATA did not have the blessing of the Nationalists. It was viewed as another ‘swart gevaar’ formation that was later going to turn rogue. This did not deter him in his quest to create a voice and representivity for black teachers in the then Transvaal. Leepile Moshweu Taunyane was a change agent that could never live comfortably without participating in the bettering of circumstances in his environment. His pursuit of education went far beyond that of a man seeking a career. He had a recognition of education’s importance as a base and a launch pad for life’s progressive endeavours. His yearning and advocacy for education was that of a man possessed. He

understood that through education he will liberate minds and souls that will amply boost the cadetship against humanity’s greatest ills – ignorance, hunger and disease. He was however a pragmatic man that knew that this liberation of the mind and soul can only be achieved one mind and soul at a time, through rigours of commitment, application and discipline. There was no place for ‘short cuts’ and no substitute for application in Taunyane’s world. I think of my mentor today and the darkness in Alexandra at the time. Darkness in whatever form you conceive it; no electricity; ignorance, whichever way. I now see that he was one of those chosen few whose task and duty in life was to enlighten. Bahurutshe, his tribesmen, named his Moshweu. Knowing African naming cultures, it could be because he was light in complexion; or named after a family member with the same name; or as his tribesmen would say, “Leina lebe seromo” – “Your name be your calling in life”. We can today say with certainty that his was a calling. He came into this life to enlighten, and that he achieved in fine distinction. With his contribution, he leaves his community, and humanity, at a better position than he found it. Dr. Taunyane was not a straight jacketed man. He did not only believe in the multifacetedness of life, he participated in them. He did not resign himself to being an educationist. He realised the power of other vocations. He particularly understood the power of the beautiful game. His attraction to football was therefore automatic. I am not old enough to have seen him play. I was however present when he administered. I remember how he, at the time, set up the ‘Misconduct Committee’ – today we call it the DC, the Disciplinary Committee. Like a true strategist he did not want to tolerate the winning of the game through anything but the prowess of your playing, in the field of play, under the same conditions. He emphasised even way back then that the public had to trust outcomes of our matches. I remember him specifically saying, “If the public does not trust our results, then we are not different from the Msomi Gang”. He was later to participate in the development of rules, regulations and constitutions that today govern our game at all levels.

In every environment he participated, he brought about knowledge, order, discipline and integrity. When you talk to anyone that has interacted closely with Dr. Taunyane; especially in matters that involved money, they will tell you a similar story. They will tell you that if he sent you on an assignment. When you return, the first thing he will require is for you to reconcile the expenditure, provide him with his change and receipts, then proceed to give him feedback. As a Secretary-General and his student I knew this practice to be nonnegotiable. I was most impressed later, when he reported to me, that he continued to live by his word. I remember him giving me change of less than a hundred rand remaining from his food and transport allowance. I remained with tears in my eyes as he left. I remember thinking; there goes a proud man who never compromised himself or his values, not even in his old age when he could blame his age and memory. Talking of age and memory, Dr Taunyane was a walking institution. I have often called him when gathering my thoughts or writing. “Help jock my memory”, I would put it to him. He would relate the story as if it had occurred yesterday. As if not enough, he will provide you with the context and backdrop to make sure your understanding was fuller. With his passing the PSL, in which he remained active until his sad passing, will be without the ‘go-to’ father who knew everything. I applaud the PSL Executive Committee and Board of Governors for the wisdom of keeping this walking institution when all around us, his ilk are being dismissed as relics of the past and thrown away. Staff members at the PSL were particularly affected when they heard the news about his passing. To my teacher, mentor and colleague; Dr Leepile Moshweu Taunyane; the educated and learned; the knowlegeble and wise; the never intimidated change agent; the strategist and humanitarian; the committed and disciplined man of integrity; you who gave education a good name, you perfomed your calling to enlighten with fine distiction ; Mohuruthse; Ngwana wa Kgosi Moroka; Mmina tshipi; Tshipi e ntsho; kare – robadisiwa ke Morena, ya gago tema o e phethile; We won’t forget you, your goatee, and cap; re tla go gopola go ya goile, ka tumelo le ditiro tsa gago.

Go lona boTaunyane, Bahurutshe, all of you are born of greatness and have greatness in your DNA. When you feel lonely or in need, look deep inside and reach out to the benefit of his teachings. Take solace in the fact that the Lord granted his wish not to reach disability and being, the proud man that he was, a burden to anyone. May his soul repose peacefully.

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