Minister speaks at ‘Bomza’ Nkohla's funeral

Minister speaks at ‘Bomza’ Nkohla's funeral

The Funeral of Mr ‘Bomza’ Nkohla

Port Elizabeth, 31.07.2017

Remarks by:

TW Nxesi MP, Minister of Sport and Recreation and Deputy Chair of the SACP


  • Programme director
  • Most importantly the family and friends of the dearly departed Bomza Nkohla
  • Ladies and gentlemen

As Minister of Sport and Recreation, and on behalf of government, allow me to convey sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Welile James ‘ Bomza’ Nkohla, this mighty sporting icon. As a member of the leadership of the South African Communist Party, I am also here to bid a fond farewell to a gallant and committed comrade.

Nothing we say can take away from the pain that death brings in its wake. But we can offer the perspective that a life well-lived is never a waste. At such times, I find comfort in quoting from the German communist poet, Bertolt Brecht who wrote as follows: 

“Do not fear death so much, but rather fear the inadequate life.”

There was nothing inadequate about the life of our dearly departed Comrade Bomza.

Where do you start to list the achievements of a man like Bomza. On the sporting front:

  • He was a legend – not only in the Eastern Cape – but in black rugby generally - during the dark days of Apartheid he kept hope alive for all black sportspeople.
  • During 1968-69 he captained the African Springboks in a number of test matches.
  • He played Number 8 for the Oriental Rugby Club (also known as ‘the Blues’) – a team founded in 1894 – the second oldest team in Port Elizabeth.
  • In 1973, Oriental – and 8 other clubs – broke away from the SA African Rugby Board to establish the Kwazakhele Rugby Union (KWARU) which subsequently joined the non-racial South African Rugby Union.
  • Bomza was described by former Springbok manager, Zola Yeye – himself a former KWARU and SARU player in the 1980s, as follows, and I quote: “He was an inspirational captain in his day for Oriental Rugby Club. Very inspirational...” Close quotes.
  • Right up to his untimely death, Bomza was involved in rugby administration, even assisting the Southern Kings.

It is a tragedy that due to Apartheid and discrimination, Bomza Nkohla was never afforded the opportunity to display his talents on the international stage. We must never forget the difficult circumstances under which our black athletes had to operate – and the recognition which was denied them during their lifetimes.

From the side of the Department of Sport and Recreation, we have three programmes which seek to mitigate these past crimes against black athletes:

  • A history project which seeks to record the contribution and achievements of people like Bomza. So keep all the photos, documents and mementos you have – our historians will need these to write his story.

  • Annually we have the Andrew Mlangeni Green Jacket Awards to recognise Apartheid era sportspeople who were never recognised but contributed to non-racial sport. [I should mention that Bomza was recognised for his contribution to rugby when in 2004 he received the South African Rugby President’s Award.]

  • Thirdly, we have started a programme to take retired sports icons to utilize them in popularising sport and coaching the youth in disadvantaged communities.

It is very clear to me that Bomza was a rounded individual. The strength and leadership that he brought to rugby, he employed in every sphere of life – whether in his beloved African Methodist Episcopal Church, or in his contribution to the liberation struggle. [Remember the AME gave as leaders of the caliber of Charlotte Maxeke and the late Bertha Gxowa.] I have heard Bomza described as strong and resolute to the point of being stubborn (enenkani).

As recently as last year, the SACP deployed Bomza to assist with the 2016 municipal elections. I am told, that even when he was ill, he continued to attend ANC meetings. When he was asked about this, he would answer: “We cannot allow the ANC to die in our hands.

Our movement, more than ever before, needs cadres and leaders of the caliber of Bomza – resolute, committed, honest – and yes stubborn – in fighting dishonesty and corruption.

Ubuyinkokheli, ulilitye.

Waqina ngenzondelelo xa ubandlululo lwaluzama ukubulala i African Rugby.

Abadlali abamnyama banamuhla bame emagxeni ezithwalandwe ezifana no Bomza.

Eliphondo lawuphakamisa lomdlalo, wawungava wonke umntu esithi “Eastern”, ubuyazi bathetha nge Eastern Province Rugby. Sifunde kakhulu kuwe.

Hamba kahle comrade.

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