Tribute by Minister Nathi Mthethwa at the Memorial Service of the late Aura Grace Msimang-Berton, Johannesburg

23 January 2016

Arts and Culture Minister Mr Mathi Mthethwa-fWe join the Msimang-Berton and Lewis family to pay our last respects to our beloved sister and mother, our comrade and fellow traveller, Mama Aura Grace Msimang-Berton.

While along with her family, she was separated from her home soil, and forced to go into exile, wherever the journey of life would take her, she would assert her African identity and become at one with the struggle to free Africans and those of African descent all over the world.

Of her it must be said, what Sekou Toure tells us, when he writes; and I quote:

“To take part in the African revolution it is not enough to write a revolutionary song: you must fashion the revolution with the people. And if you fashion it with the people, the songs will come by themselves.”

She was a true revolutionary who saw her calling as an artist as contributing to changing the world.

She did not remain aloof but embedded herself in the struggle for freedom and equality, saw herself as at one with the people and sang about the truths of our realities.

And indeed her songs came with a powerful voice and unflinching lyrics, each song like a call to action and a statement of intent.

Even in her last months, I am told, that her energy did not wane and that she still had the enthusiasm of youth and wanted to help others to reach their goals and attain greatness.

She was as a woman of the people, a truthsayer and a trailblazer, who travelled the world with her talents but remained true to the struggle that had birthed her.

She was a musician of note, whose music planted seeds of hope, and sang of the interconnectedness between Africa and its Diaspora, and of being African in the world.

She embraced reggae music in particular as part of Africa’s contribution to world culture and initiated festivals of reggae music here at home.

She worked with the greatest of greats, but when the moment arrived, she would work on her own albums and take centre-stage.

We shall remember her for her spirit of kindness, her soulful voice and her big heart.

My condolences to all her family and friends.

Farewell, daughter of our soil and citizen of the world.

MINISTER NATHI MTHETHWA, MP

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