Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dr Khoza Mgojo

I am at the funeral of a great man. Thousands of people have arrived, packing the Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre in with the colourful black, red and white of the South African Methodist Church.
On arriving at this stadium just outside Port Shepstone we - Peter Storey and myself - joined the queue of cars waiting to enter the grounds. The hearse accompanied by police vehicles swept past us and entered the grounds, where they were engulfed by a police honour guard. After finally getting a parking, we joined the crowd that jostled to get through the security barriers. Clearly there were some serious VIPs here. Glancing through the programme I saw the names of Bishop Siwa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr Zweli Mkhize, Dr Dandala, and a string of national Methodist leaders (past and present).  His community awards and honours are numerous. But for me, I remember him in my formative years:Khoza Mgojo was my seminary teacher. When I first arrived at the seminary I tried to avoid him.... because he was insisting that I study both Greek and Hebrew. He had gained his PhD from Harvard University in Biblical languages, and could not understand why anyone would try to avoid these languages. When he finally cornered me he threw this question at me :"So you don't want to speak the language of Jesus!". It is thanks to him I now have two years of Greek and a year of Hebrew under my belt. I do not regret this.  So here I am peacefully typing my own tribute on my BlackBerry while tributes are given by family and friends - when we are interrupted by two military helicopters landing on the sports field next to us. Clearly another VIP has arrived ... a "Very VIP" because Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, has just arrived. I watch the procession as it winds its way to the podium, and wonder at the appropriateness of the military weapons displayed by those accompanying him. This has just ceased to be a funeral of a Methodist Minister. I fear that it now becomes an opportunity to gain votes for the forthcoming elections for the leader of the ruling political party. Eish! I think I will leave soon.

Sent via my BlackBerry

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