Eulogy Delivered by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, at the Funeral Service of late MEC Tate Makgoe, held at UFS South Campus, Bloemfontein
Programme DirectorMembers of the Makgoe familyColleagues in the CabinetFree State Premier and MEC’sAll MEC’s for EducationMayors and CouncillorsTraditional LeadersDistrict DirectorsPrincipalsAll Senior Government OfficialsMembers of the MediaDistinguished GuestsComrades and Friends
Today, we are gathering to bid farewell to a great man, Tate Makgoe, as he was affectionately known.
He has departed from this physical world.
In other words, he has shuffled off this mortal coil, as it were.
As the basic education sector, we are heartbroken and gutted by his untimely demise.
As we bid farewell to Tate Makgoe today, we do so with heavy hearts and, at the same time, a sense of gratitude for the time we shared with him.
We take comfort in the knowledge that he will be remembered as a true champion of basic education and a servant of the people.
As a result, let’s heed the advice of D.H. Lawrence, the famous poet, who wrote, “The dead do not die. They look on and help.”
Therefore, we acknowledge that Tate Makgoe has left this earthly realm, and his spirit has ascended to a higher place.
As we return his remains to the ground, we are reminded of the words from the Holy Bible, “For dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19).
Today, we witness the final curtain, the separation of this mortal life and the beginning of an eternal one.
As we say our goodbyes, we recognise that these words mark the end of a beautiful journey, a life well lived in the service of humanity.
We must come to terms with the fact that Tate Makgoe’s time with us has ended, and his spirit has transitioned to an eternal realm.
Despite this, his legacy will endure through the cherished memories he has left us.
To paraphrase the wise words of poet May Swenson, let’s not mourn our beloved leader but strive to be like him.
His life was a testament to his dedication to serving others, and his contributions to the basic education sector will never be forgotten.
In times like these, we often find comfort in the words of the Bible.
As it is written in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction…”
We may feel weak in the face of this tremendous loss, but we find strength in knowing that Tate Makgoe’s legacy will live on through us.
As long as we live, he cannot die.
Tate Makgoe was a leader who enormously impacted the basic education sector.
During the 2009-2014 term, he had discussed plans to contribute to the education programme, particularly in reviewing the OBE curriculum initiated by the former Education Minister Naledi Pandor.
Despite acknowledging that he was not an educationist and had limited knowledge about content-related matters, Tate became the leading figure in the curriculum reform debate.
He was very thoughtful, conscientious, brave, hardworking, and committed to his work, which led to many achievements for the Free State province and the entire country.
Under his leadership, the department consistently led the country in the matric outcomes and excelled in different aspects, such as school nutrition, mathematics, and more.
Tate Makgoe was a life-long learner, a leader, and a humble servant who paid attention to everything and attended to his work with utmost dedication.
He was even a sounding board on different matters, and I always invited him to join me on international trips.
We travelled with him to Belgium, Finland, and Cuba recently.
We planned to travel to Seychelles to study the world’s best ECD programme.
On my last visit to this province, we spent two days together during the Second Chance programme roadshow, which was meant to assist learners who had not succeeded with their matric exams.
The event was packed to the rafters; he was an organiser and cared deeply about the NEETS (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) community.
We agreed to convene another meeting soon to deal with bursaries, assistance to get post-matric placements, and opportunities for training and development.
We also had a stakeholder meeting with ECD practitioners after the Second Chance programme; we discussed reports on the ECD census and the Thrive by Five Index.
The Free State province was not doing well, but Tate Makgoe committed to addressing the challenges highlighted in those reports.
I remember a touching story about Tate Makgoe that comes to mind. During a trip to Cuba, he fell ill, but he refused to let it slow him down or cause him to miss any of the sessions.
Despite being unwell, he attended every programme, displaying his unwavering commitment to his work and his steadfast determination to see things through.
Tate Makgoe was a true champion of education, and his energy would light up any educational function.
He would beam with pride and joy at the sight of the province’s exceptional teachers, principals, and managers.
His passion for education was contagious, and he would inspire all those around him with his infectious enthusiasm.
It was as if the educational functions were his stage, and he was the star performer, captivating the audience with his unwavering dedication to improving the lives of young people.
Thus it is no surprise that since his untimely death, condolences have continued to pour in.
Former Deputy Director-General for Planning and Delivery Oversight, Palesa Tyobeka, who worked closely with provinces and districts, among the many messages I received, said:
“The Free State education sector and the country have lost a true leader who was passionate about education and improving the lives of learners and educators. MEC Makgoe’s leadership style was consultative, collaborative and inclusive, which led to the Free State province being recognised as one of the leading provinces in education in South Africa. His work ethic was exemplary, and he was committed to ensuring that the department delivered on its mandate of providing quality education for all. His legacy will continue to inspire us in our quest to transform education in South Africa.”
Ray Khala, who worked in my office and interacted with MEC Makgoe, said, “The passing of MEC Makgoe is a huge loss to the education sector and the country as a whole. He was a visionary leader passionate about education and the development of young people. He led by example, and his commitment to improving the lives of learners and educators was unparalleled. He will always be remembered for his selflessness, humility and dedication to his work.”
MP Matyesi from the DA said, “The DA extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of MEC Tate Makgoe. His passing is a great loss to the education sector in South Africa, and his contributions will be sorely missed. MEC Makgoe was a dedicated and hardworking leader who always put the interests of learners and educators first. He leaves a legacy of excellence and commitment to education that will continue to inspire us all.”
The DA, through its MP, Baxolile’ Bax’ Nodada, expressed their condolences to MEC Makgoe’s family and the ANC for the loss of such a great leader in the basic education sector.
We also received messages of condolence from our partners in the sector, including the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, famously known as UMALUSI, the South African Council for Educators (SACE), and Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC).
Our various school governing bodies and teacher unions have also sent their heartfelt condolences for a hero in life and death.
Our country has really lost one of its most outstanding education leaders and a man who was simply the best.
As the great Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
His leadership and vision made people feel inspired, valued, and empowered.
He was known for his consultative and collaborative leadership style, which created a sense of unity and purpose among educators and stakeholders in the sector.
People who worked with Tate Makgoe felt motivated to work harder, improve, and contribute to the greater good.
He had a way of making everyone feel like they had a stake in the success of the education sector and that their efforts were appreciated and valued.
Tate Makgoe has left an indelible mark on numerous people’s lives, and his legacy will remain a source of great inspiration.
Although we bid him a final farewell as his body returns to the earth, his spirit will forever be with us.
As we contemplate his accomplishments and life, we are struck by his immense influence on South Africa’s basic education sector.
He led the Free State education department to be number one in the country for four years in a row, a remarkable accomplishment that speaks to his unwavering commitment to improving the lives of the youth.
Tate Makgoe’s vision for basic education went beyond just improving test scores and academic performance.
He understood that education was a pathway to a better life, a means of lifting individuals and communities out of poverty and toward a brighter future, the proverbial Better Life for All.
He worked tirelessly to ensure that every child in the Free State had access to quality education, regardless of their background or circumstances.
Tate Makgoe’s legacy will live on through the countless lives he touched, the schools he built, and the pro-poor policies he implemented.
His leadership and dedication to education have set an example for us all, and we are grateful for the time we had with him.
Tate Makgoe was born on 12 May 1963, in Tumahole, outside Parys, in the Orange Free State Province.
He received his primary education in Tumahole and attended high school in Sebokeng.
Tate Makgoe received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of South Africa and a BCom honours degree from the University of the Free State.
Later, he earned a master’s degree in business leadership from UNISA, and in 2018, he received an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from the Vaal University of Technology.
At the time of his passing, Tate Makgoe was enrolled for a Doctor of Philosophy in Education at the University of the Free State.
Tate Makgoe was a man of many talents and varied interests.
Still, his passion for freedom and social justice led him to join the military wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe, in 1984.
Tate Makgoe was incarcerated by the apartheid regime at the Sun City Prison between 1986 and 1991 due to his involvement in the antiapartheid struggle for freedom we enjoy today.
After the ANC was unbanned, Tate Makgoe served on the party’s Northern Free State Regional Executive Committee in 1991.
He was the party’s provincial campaign manager in the Free State in the 1994 general elections.
After that, his political career flourished, and he was elected to the Free State Provincial Legislature in 1994.
He held multiple positions in the Executive Council of the Free State Provincial Government and served as the Member of the Executive for Education from May 2009 until his untimely passing.
During his tenure as MEC for Education, the Free State became the province with the highest matriculation rate in the country for four years in a row.
This rare achievement solidifies Tate Makgoe as a man who believed in the vision of a Better Life for All.
He was in a league of his own. A pathfinder.
He was driven by the quest to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment.
His commitment to the people of South Africa was unwavering, and he worked tirelessly to ensure they received the education they deserved.
Tate Makgoe was a man of integrity and principle, living his life by the values he held dear.
Today, we bid farewell to a great man, a leader, a husband, and a father.
Tate Makgoe will be missed by all who knew him, but his legacy will live on through the countless lives he touched and the positive change he brought to the world.
His demise has brought to mind a quote by physician poet John Stone, who wrote about death coming slowly like rust or unexpectedly like a loose doorknob.
Tate Makgoe’s impact extended far beyond those who knew him personally, and his loss is deeply felt.
He was a unique individual, and his absence left a significant void.
As we reflect on his life and share our cherished memories of him, we try to ease the pain of him slipping away
Tate Makgoe’s death is a stark reminder of the fleeting nature of life and the importance of leaving a lasting legacy.
It also reminds us that material things and friendships are temporary, as the American writer of short stories and poetry Raymond Carver once observed.
While Tate Makgoe’s physical presence may be gone, his spirit lives on, as is expressed in Thomas Campbell, a Scottish poet quote: “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die.”
Rest in peace, Tate Makgoe.
Thank you, officials, of the Free State Education Department, ke leboha tlotlo le lerato leo le mo fileng lona. Ke nnete I tshwanetswe ke tlotlo. Bana ba ntate Tate ha le a lahlehelwa le le bang
Tate Makgoe has left a lasting impact on the world, and his memory will continue to inspire us all.
Robala ka Khotso Nkoheli, Re Bona Kamoso!!!
I thank you