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Jabulani Nxumalo "Mzala"

A targic loss on the evening of February 22, 1991 Jabulani Nxumalo, better known as Comrade Mzala, died in London. His tragic death at the age of 35 has robbed the national liberation and working class movement of a powerful thinker, orator and writer.

Mzala was born on October 27, 1955 in Dundee, Northern Natal. His parents Benjamin and Elsie were both teachers. From an early age they inculated in Mzala a love for books and disciplined approach to studying. At both primary and secondary schools Mzala`s record was outstanding.

After matriculating he studied law at the University of Zululand. At university he was passionate and firey fighter against injustice and humbug. His participation in the country wide upsurge following the Soweto uprising of 1976 made him a marked man. With a number of others he left South Africa to help swell the ranks of the people`s army, Umkhonto we Sizwe. He also received training in politics and other specialised subjects in the Soviet Union and German Democratic Republic. In all the training courses Mzala excelled.

Mzala rose to important positions in the ranks of Umkhonto we Sizwe,serving in Swaziland and Angola.Yet, whilst asborbed in the work of the underground, Mzala would make time to read books on a wide variety of topics and to engage in heated and controversial debates. In the course of debating, which he loved more than anything, Mzala`s mouth would acquire a wry half grin, especially if he did not agree with his opponent`s point of view. Once fired by a topic, Mzala would not relent. He would want to pursue the topic to Its very end, much to the exasperation of others. Mzala was irrepressible.

He had a voracious intellectual appetite, especially for the Marxist-Leninist classics. One could not see Mzala with out him being surrounded by books. In Angola he would sit on the stoep and be completely immersed in the book he was reading.

Mzala was also a prolifie writer. The African Communist, Sechaba, Dawn all contain numerous articles by Mzala, published under various pen-names. If one looks at his articles over the years, one can trace his philosophical, ideological and theoretical development.

Over the last few years he wrote the column "Africa Notes" for The African Communist. He is also the author of Catsha Buthelezi: Chief with a DoubleAgenda (Zed Books, 1988).

Much of Mzala`s writing focussed on the national question and the unfolding revolutionary process in our country. On both questions Mzala always endeavoured to inject some original thinking.

Mzala spent a short time in Prague, representing the SACP on the editorial council of the World Marxist Review. In the brief period he was in Prague, he earned the respect of, although he did not always endear himself to, the leaders of many communist parties for his sharp, no-nonsense, polemical style. Unfortunately he took ill and was forced to leave Prague for London.

In London he read for a Ph.D degree at the Open University. His thesis dealt with issues around the national and class question in the South African revolution.

It is a great shame that his untimely death came before he completed his thesis. Hopefully some parts of the thesis can be published.

Comrade Mzala was a loyal member of the ANC and SACP. His biting and at times provocative criticisms did not always please everyone in our movement. But nobody could doubt his fierce commitment to the oppressed and exploited masses of our country.

Mzala was an exceptionally hard worker. He had a wry sense of humour. He could tell jokes and laugh at himself. He was also a devoted family man, and adored his wife Mpho and their two children.

The death of Comrade Mzala has deprived our movement of one of its most brilliant talents. Perhaps the greatest loss of all is to our Party`s ongoing attempts to indigenise Marxism-Leninism on South African soil.

Hamba Kahle,
Comrade Jabulani "Mzala" Nxumalo!

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