Comrades and Friends, It has been a difficult week for the student movement, death has been unforgiving, it has visited us, targeting our ripest of fruits at a time we so desperately need him within our ranks, A towering figure of moral integrity and authority that defined our revolutionary conscious, a dedicated servant of the struggles of marginalized students. This week, we have had to send out messages of condolences to the family of a beacon of hope, a vital member of our collective that strived to live a life committed to the cause of students in our country.


In remembering our beloved Deputy President, Cde Prof. We have borrowed from the words of American poet, Walt Whitman, in his poem titled O Captain! My Captain!


Whilst omitting two stanzas.


“O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting…

“O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up – for you the flag is flung – for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths – for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning…


“My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My captain does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes with object won;

Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.”



As I stand upright on my feet, I feel my knees fail me. At such a young age we are tasked with a difficult task of paying tribute to each other as young people, unimaginable, that at our tender age we bid farewell to each other. Indeed, our dear Captain Prof your fearful trip has come to an end, however the trip wasn’t meaningless, Buyile anchored a ship, a ship that sailed through treacherous terrains, a trip that required a steadfast captain which he was, who put his own needs secondary to that of his erstwhile cabin crew and the many people he met and made that journey with.


Gaba’s selfless trait was carried by the wind to our ears, it was an ethos he reflected in how he carried himself, it was almost as if it was a mantra for DP. We saw this through his in-depth analysis of our congress movement, it was evident in his ability to stand head above shoulder in what he believed and astutely argued our movement needed to become.


The most common of thoughts, also since it was recent is, when Buyile spoke effortlessly and was relentless about how our incumbent leaders and membership in the ANC lack consciousness and have become disturbingly anti-poor. Prof was fearless, constructively criticizing and intolerant to injustice which affected the dispossesed people of South Africa. Moreover, through his commitment and dedication to our people, Gaba proved to be the captain that rung the bell to wake his people from their deep slumber.


Even though DP, our Captain, cannot answer and as his lips are pale. As our Captain, he planted a seed amongst us as young people, a seed to read, a seed to think critically, a seed to voice out our frustrations eloquently and not “just make noise” as he would chastise those not properly prepared to thoroughly engage, a seed to never self-doubt and notably a seed to ensure we prioritize each other as a generation and look past our differences. This is the Gaba we will remember, our Captain! who steered our ship and worked tirelessly to ensure our comrades developed themselves, always insisting that we should be better versions of ourselves, that in our pursuit of self-development the primary beneficiaries must be our communities.


A Marxist and Leninist scholar, who knew our effort and gains mean nothing unless we fundamentally transform our society opposed to the cosmetic change that has landed us in the trouble we are in as a people.


The tragedy O Captain! My Captain! is that we cannot claim to have anchored the ship, the ship now more than ever needs to move further from where your lips went pale, our gallant student movement needs to set sail as we have not reached our promised land.

SASCO must still sail the ship past the austerity measures that the state has imposed on our people, we still need to sail the ship further, into a truly equal society, where no student is without decent accommodation, where no young girl is outside of a classroom because they cannot afford sanitary towels, we still have a great journey ahead of us and this ship must still sail towards an horizon where no student is denied an education simply because they are poor, and there we will dock our ship having achieved free compulsory quality education that you dedicated your life towards.


Prof our Captain! Committed to a sometimes-forgotten pillar of international work of SASCO almost outshined the other pillars of our organization, he had indicated through his commitment of strengthening Africa China relations that he ended up being the ship that commuted our people to China to strengthen those relations. To the naked eye the end goal must have been to strengthen the relation but if one takes a backseat and observes this gesture objectively, Gaba attempted to foster a sophisticated way of skill development through these China trips, for our people to understand the governing model of China and furthermore the structuring of the economy in the Peoples Republic of China.


O Captain! Our beloved DP, we walk the deck he laid his bare life on, with the ringing thought behind our heads that Buyile is no more, physically he has left us but his ideas ring as loud as the church bell in each of our heads. The tragedy of death is that we seize to see the physical, yet the memory of what one stood for lives on for an eternity, in the rhythm of breathe as one generation imparts his lessons on the next, when future generations of our gallant student movement read his writing, Prof shall surely live through his own words and his vast contribution to our movement.


When the silence of his absence deepens amongst us, let us ensure his contribution stands the test of time, his writings in his short life are prophetic, a consistent pursuit to build a future which is inclusive of all, a true testament to the calibre of cadre which our movement produced and the Matiwane family lent to our cause.


To you Gaba’omkhulu, Msuthu, Nozinga


I am privileged to have been entrusted by our gallant organisation, the South African Students Congress, to stand here on behalf of our revolutionary student movement and declare at its behest from all of us to you and say, Thank You!


Thank you for being the person you were to us, Gaba. Siyabulela kuwe Prof for the way you have enriched all our lives.


We will continue to strive to emulate the example of what your short life has been, tirelessly committing ourselves to the cause of our people, maybe we might not have fully understood as well as we should have, how much of what you thought and said and did gave meaning and direction to our own lives. As we move closer as the student movement to handing over the baton to the next generation of student activists, we have an obligation to our organisation and in your memory to ensure that the cream of the crop takes the baton and pursues our student struggles further, our tribute to you must be that of breathing life back into our Mass Democratic Movement, relentlessly keeping your promise and commitment to our movement alive.


As I some up my words in reverence to our beloved DP, I find even difficult to use words to describe the vacuum he has left in our lives, in our movement, his poise but militant spirit will be missed. A tragedy to say the least but we hope our ancestors and those join who come from the ranks of our revolutionary movement will welcome this great son of Africa, that even when our own time comes to descend, may it be Gaba who we will find to welcome us.


O Captain! My Captain! My captain answers no more, but there are immense lessons he has left for all of us.


Hamba Kahle Gaba, Msuthu, Nozinga, uMtu’wamlomba, Nqosini


Sawubonana Kwelizayo Prof!


Delivered on behalf of the 21st NEC at the Gauteng Provincial Memorial.



*Cde Luvuyo Kenneth Barnes*

NEC Member – SASCO

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