We are here to honour an Unsung Hero. But I would like to start by paying tribute to my younger sister, Ingrid Jones, a woman of strength and generous love! What a woman! My sister thank you for modelling what it means to live your marriage vows: for better or for worse! You have done it! The love, care, and dedication to ensuring that your beloved was cared for in dignity until the last breadth, is truly exemplary! Enkosi Sisi!
Ingrid, I will never forget your 60th birthday party celebrations! Peter in his usual manner, came in dressed up to the nines! A real Mdjita! Pointed shoes and all! We danced away a good part of the evening with him on his wheel chair! What a night! It is my fervent hope that all my sisters, daughters and granddaughters will learn from you how to be the perfect partner – the quintessential Mrs Jones.
Peter Jones was a man of the people. Never too much of a talker, but a good listener and doer. He brought order and effectiveness to the work of the Black Community Programs, and the mobilisation of poor communities. His financial skills brought much needed order to the financial affairs of our activist community development work in the 1970s.
The significant development work of promoting regenerative agriculture in poor communities of the Eastern Cape in the last active years of his life, has yet to be acknowledged. He invested himself in iSibaya as a vehicle, to work in partnership with the local communities, local authorities, and the Agricultural Research Council, to transform the Eastern Cape into the food basket it has the capacity to become. Like so much else government failed to support this work with the necessary funding.
So how will we remember Peter Jones? I have been mulling this question in anticipation of this day. Like many close friends and comrades of PC, I have tried inadequately to accompany Peter and Ingrid on their difficult journey over the last more than four years. I watched the love and care between them, and Peter’s courage and resilience, in the face of the trials and tribulations of the journey.
As the saying goes: The Lord works in mysterious ways. I happened to meet Dr Harlan Cloete, of the University of the Free State, in the Bidvest Lounge at ORT only 10 days ago. He shared the podcasts he has made of PC in 2019. Listening to PC’s own voice relieved me of my burden. Peter said in his own words: “I want to be remembered as an eternal revolutionary with sufficient love for his country and family.”
An eternal revolutionary with sufficient love of country and family is what PC Jones modelled in his life to the very end. What does this ask of us as a country that he dedicated his youth and life to? Can each one of us here today declare the same love for country and family as he did? Peter the husband of a strong woman, and father of beautiful strong daughters, was never threatened by feminine strengths. He celebrated them.
Our country is far from reflecting the legacy of the eternal revolutionaries such as PC Jones, who dedicated themselves to loving country and family. We have all in small and large measure betrayed our country and families, by failing to raise our collective voice in the face of the betrayal by leaders in both the public and private sectors. Raising our voices as citizens requires the perseverance of PC the eternal revolutionary. The occasional OpEd or protest is not enough. Sustained revolutionary action is called for in the face of a country in free fall – no lights, violence at all levels in homes and communities, grinding poverty for many in the midst of conspicuous consumption of public funds by a few!
Our inaction is a betrayal of PC and all those who dedicated their lives for the liberation struggle that has yet to manifest in the daily lives of ordinary people. I would like to appeal to those who have appropriated the role of being our liberators, to learn from PC Jones, the man of the people, about how to be lovers of country and family in our beautiful land.
As we close the chapter on the mortal life of this great brother and friend, we need to ask ourselves the question: how are we to honour him in our own lives as citizens, professionals and public servants across our country? How are we to continue his work of loving his country that is currently crying for love and care of its most vulnerable? We are being challenged by this unsung hero to lift our game as citizens to be active as he was, to be dedicated as he was, to hold those in public office accountable, as he did all his life. This is how love of family and country looks like.
PC Jones calls to us today is to remember him as an eternal revolutionary who loves his country and family. We now have to ask ourselves – each of us – how we learn from his example to complete the unfinished business of making PC Jones’s country the prosperous inclusive country inspired by Ubuntu. This is the best way to not only remember PC Jones, but of honouring his dreams. Are you ready! I am!