Struggle stalwart, Andrew Mlangeni, who is celebrating his 95th birthday on Saturday, has thanked South Africans for the well wishes that have been streaming in from across the country. He was speaking during an online celebration of his birthday.

Mlangeni says he is privileged to have live a long life. He also spoke briefly about his fellow Rivonia Trialist, Nelson Mandela.

“When Madiba reached 95, he was so fragile if I may put it that way; he was like a cabbage to me. And I always said, if 95 years of life looks like Madiba, then I hope I don’t reach that age. People were always saying to me; ‘Mlangeni, it is not you who’s going to decide what age you are going to die; the creator is going to decide. I’ve accepted that.”

In the video below, Bab’Mlangeni thanks South Africans for birthday wishes:

President Cyril Ramaphosa says Mlangeni had been a role model to him and countless other people in South Africa. The President has again offered his condolences to Mlangeni on the recent passing of his fellow Rivonia Trialist, Denis Goldberg.

The President says Mlangeni has been consistent and principled in holding the ANC to account for errors it has made in recent years. He says the struggle veteran is still in good health, despite his advanced years.

“We give thanks to your health and well-being and remain immensely grateful for the incalculable contribution that you have made to this country and its people. We will never be able to be in a position to thank you enough for the sacrifices that you have made; it is sad that virtue is its only reward.”

In the video below, President Ramaphosa sends well wishes to Ntate Mlangeni on his birthday:

UDM leader General Bantu Holomisa says the transition would have been more difficult in South Africa had it not been for the role played by the struggle icon. Holomisa says Mlangeni played an important role in assisting change in the Transkei and participating in the negotiations, which saw the whole country entering the democratic era.

“I still remember as if it was only yesterday, when you and other colleagues of yours after you were released from prison you paid a visit to Mthatha and even then you guided us; that’s why Transkei had a peaceful transition in the late 80s and early 90s. Once more; happy birthday.”

In the video below, Holomisa wishes Mlangeni a happy birthday:

IFP founder and former leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, says he’s grateful for the opportunity as one of the few surviving freedom fighters to be wishing his colleague, Mlangeni a happy 95th birthday. Buthelezi was speaking in an online video streaming service from KwaZulu-Natal.

He says Mlangeni will forever be celebrated across the world for helping liberate South Africa. “The Lord has granted my brother a bonanza of years. Unfortunately, as someone who shares the gift of bonanza of years, I can attest that longevity is somehow bitter sweet. Dr Mlangeni and I have outlived all those who worked with us in the service of our country. There are so many friends and comrades who are no longer here to say happy birthday with us to isiThwalandwe; we miss them.”

A reason to celebrate

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Chairperson Amos Masondo say amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mlangeni’s birthday gives South Africans a reason to be celebratory.

Modise and Masondo described Mlangeni as a revered liberation hero who is respected and recognised globally as a champion of peace, social justice and unity. The two presiding officers say Bab’Mlangeni, as he is affectionately known, continues to inspire hope and change to the nation as the fountain of wisdom and a voice of reason.

The Speaker and the NCOP Chairperson say they are grateful for all the sacrifices Mlangeni has made while fighting apartheid to the end and also his immense contribution to the work of a democratic Parliament. They say the 95-year-old Rivonia Trialist served as a dependable paragon of selflessness, integrity and ethical leadership during his time in Parliament.

In the video below, Modise and Masondo wish bab’Mlangeni a happy birthday:

A role model

Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, says the ANC needs the kind of leaders and members who will follow in Mlangeni’s footsteps. She’s described him as a selfless leader, who doesn’t expect anything in return for serving South Africans.

Sisulu says Mlangeni’s birthday is a milestone worth celebrating.

“From me and the family, every one of us, we love you very much. You remain the kind of icon who wasn’t for everybody to see for this is what made us who we are, giving everything and demanding nothing in return and sitting there very much in the back sit and looking on and making sure we stick to the pass.”

In the video below, Minister Sisulu wishes tat’Mlangeni a happy birthday:

Mlangeni’s daughter Sylvia has expressed her gratitude for the role her father played in helping liberate the country from apartheid.

“We are so grateful as your children to have you as our father on this day as you celebrate 95. We wish you could reach 100 years.” – Additional reporting by Mercedes Besent