The Thabo Mbeki Foundation has learnt with sadness of the recent passing of Comrade George Nene, after a short illness.
Comrade George, began his involvement in the struggle against Apartheid in the 1970s as a student activist in the South African Students Organisation (SASO) and the Black Consciousness Movement. He later joined the African National Congress (ANC) and was instructed to go into exile through Swaziland in 1976 together with Comrade Siphiwe Nyanda. He was sent to military training in then Soviet Union and later served as one of the Frontline MK Commanders, based in Swaziland. During his years in exile, he also served the ANC in various other capacities in the Department of Information and Publicity, contributing to the publication of the Journal Mayibuye. He later joined the ANC Department of International Affairs under the late Comrade Johnny Makhathini. As a member of this Department he served for some years as the ANC Chief Representative in Nigeria.
Comrade George was a consummate diplomat. He served as the first High Commissioner to Nigeria during South Africa’s democratic dispensation. He also served as Deputy Director General responsible for Multilateral Affairs in the Department of Foreign Affairs. He was also posted as South Africa’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
As part of the generation of young activists who joined the ANC in 1970s, at a time when all liberation movements were banned, Comrade George and his peers took up the spear and carried on the march of freedom. To borrow from the words of the poet Aime Cesaire, this generation said:
“My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth, my voice the freedom of those who break down in the prison holes of despair…”
“And above all, my body as well as my soul,
beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator,
for life is not a spectacle,a sea of miseries is not a proscenium,
a man screaming is not a dancing bear …”
It is therefore also important to recognise the pivotal role George and his generation of freedom fighters played in re-invigorating the ANC and the liberation struggle.
Our hearts and prayers are with his family, his many friends and comrades-in- arms.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to his dear family.
May his soul rest in peace!
Thabo Mbeki Foundation
April 8, 2018.