(M.P. Naicker passed away while on his way from London to Berlin on April 29, 1977. The following tribute to his memory was delivered at his funeral in London on May 8, 1977.)
We are gathered here to bid our last farewell to our dear Comrade M. P. - a great freedom-fighter, a dedicated revolutionary, a staunch internationalist, and a truly outstanding leader and organiser of the people of our country, South Africa.
The loss of M. P. will be sorely felt throughout the movement. There is no campaign in the South African struggle since the 1940's which does not bear the imprint of his valuable contribution.
Born into an Indian working class family in the harsh economic conditions of the 1920's, he was forced to leave school at an early age with a limited formal education. He worked in a factory, he drove a baker's van, he quickly learned the nature of national and class oppression. He joined the Communist Party at the age of 18, and from then on, his entire life - for the next 40 years - was to be spent in the service of the people, without regard to personal sacrifice or cost.
M. P. was responsible, together with his comrades, particularly George Ponen and the late H. A. Naidoo, for organising the Indian workers into trade unions and leading them into militant strikes. At the same time he worked assiduously to bring about cooperation and unity among all the Black workers. He was elected Secretary of Natal Sugar Workers' Union and energetically plunged into the difficult task of contacting workers in the sugar-fields.
M. P. was a key figure in the Anti-Segregation Council of the Natal Indian Congress which helped to transform the Congress into a mass organisation with a militant policy of struggle and of unity in action of all Black people.
In the 1946 Indian Passive Resistance Campaign, M. P. distinguished himself as an able and first class organiser and was appointed Secretary of the Passive Resistance Council - and subsequently became secretary of the Natal Indian Congress.
M. P.`s immense contributions and leading role in all the major campaigns and trials, such as the National Day of Protest, 1950, the Defiance Campaign, 1952, Congress of the People, 1955, the Treason Trial, 1956, the May 1961 Strike, are too numerous to enumerate here.
During his long political career he was arrested countless times and during the 1960's he was detained under the 90- and 180-day Acts.
In exile since 1966 he threw himself unflinchingly into the work of the External Mission of the African National Congress. As Director of Publicity and Editor of Sechaba, he fulfilled his duties with distinction and served the cause nobly to the end.
We remember, and history will record, his total commitment to the struggle for national liberation and socialism in South Africa. As a son of the working class, he remained loyal throughout his life to his class and its Party, the Communist Party, an uncompromising enemy of apartheid, capitalist exploitation and oppression - a South African patriot and revolutionary whose life's work was to consolidate the unity of the Black people and all revolutionaries in the freedom struggle. By his overpowering energy, clarity of thought and magnetic personality, he endeared himself to the people as a leader, guide and friend.
As an internationalist, friend of the Soviet Union and the other Socialist countries, he well understood that the unity of the Socialist world, the working class of the capitalist countries and the liberation movements of Africa, Asia and Latin America was the decisive revolutionary force of our times against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and racism and for peace, national independence and socialism.
Allow me, on behalf of all of us, to extend to Ayah, Saro and the family our deepest condolences in their and our great loss. We assure you that you are not alone and never will be - the South African people and progressive peoples of the world are with you. We know that you will bear the loss with courage, confident in the knowledge that M. P. lives with us in the struggle at this crucial hour when the courageous youth and working people of our country, under the leadership of the liberation forces headed by the African National Congress, are storming the citadel of racist fascist tyranny.
Hamba Kahle M. P. - the struggle continues. We mourn not, we mobilise - we fight. Your life work continues - Victory is certain!
5 From: African Communist, No. 70, third quarter 1977