Queen Noloyiso Sandile laid to rest


QUEEN Noloyiso Sandile, the most senior member of a South African royal family to die of COVID-19, has been laid to rest after a solemn and dignified service.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote a moving eulogy, paying tribute to the Queen Sandile, whom he described as a woman of valour who fought fiercely for women empowerment. The eulogy was delivered by Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe on behalf of Ramaphosa.

Mantashe said: “We have lost a great leader, and a steadfast matriarch of the most noble character. A woman is the cornerstone of society. She is the foundation upon which a home and a nation is built. The late Queen was not a mother to her children alone, but a mother to the whole AmaRharharbe nation. Her home was not enclosed by four walls, but was in the community, amongst her people. Her life has been tragically cut short, but even in death she continues to impart a positive legacy to our nation. 

“She succumbed to the devastating virus that is sweeping across our country; and I wish to thank the royal family for disclosing her condition. At a time when so many of our people live in fear and uncertainty, we have to break any stigma that exists around coronavirus, so that the ill and the vulnerable can be cared for, loved and supported. Coronavirus is a very real threat to us all. But becoming infected with this respiratory disease is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it any reason to discriminate against others.”

He said that Queen Sandile was the embodiment of principled servant leadership, following in the footsteps of Princess Emma Sandile, the daughter of King Mgolombane Sandile. Princess Emma was part of the first contingent of AmaRharhabe royalty to receive formal education at Zonnebloem in Cape Town in 1857.

He added that Princess Emma Sandile became the first African woman in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa to own land in her own name. “I know that Princess Emma was a great inspiration to our beloved Queen Noloyiso Sandile,” said Mantashe.

On the Queen’s commitment to the empowerment of women, Mantashe said she understood, only too well, that enabling women to take their rightful place in all sectors of society is key to the health of any nation. 

Mantashe said Queen Sandile did not hesitate to speak out against regressive practices that held women and girls back from realizing their full potential. She abhorred gender-based violence, discrimination against women, the prevention of women owning land or property, and women falling victim to cultural practices that relegated them to a lower status than men.

“In tribute to the late Queen, as government we will continue to engage with the National House of Traditional Leaders in their quest to address and overcome outdated cultural practices and laws that are discriminatory towards women and girls. The hallmark of progressive leadership is being able to move with the times. By adapting to the demands of modern society, all the while firmly retaining proud traditions passed down through the centuries, the institution of traditional leadership will continue to thrive and retain the confidence of the people. 

“Queen Noloyiso was a proud traditionalist, but she was also a modern leader. They are not mutually exclusive, but mutually reinforcing. We can be confident that her legacy continues to inspire young women in her community and across the country.  Another aspect of her legacy of which we can be proud is the integrity she displayed since assuming the duties of leadership. Her regency was characterised by unity and provided stability to the kingdom. 

The proud institution of traditional leadership is greatly disadvantaged when disputes over succession, unfortunately, find their way into the public space and generate news headlines. The first and most ideal option should always be to resolve these disputes internally within the Royal Households. Our kings and queens are an integral part of South Africa’s past, her present and her future. As government we stand ready, willing and prepared to ensure this great institution is preserved for time to come. An institution that exemplifies dignity and honour. Our traditional leaders are our partners in development, something the late Queen fully understood and appreciated,” Mantashe said.

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