60th Wedding Anniversary Celebration

An address to the 60TH Wedding Anniversary Celebration of Mr Zebedee & Ms Elizabeth Silinda By Dr Reuel J. Khoza   I  25 November 2017


MC, Silinda & Ngobehi Clans in particular The Couple of the day Tatana Zebedee Silinda and Manana Elizabeth; Royalties and Civic Leadership; Pastors and Entertainers. Special mentions: Rev Curtis Ndlovu and Rev Filimao Chambo (Member of the Nazarene Church Top 6 Executive).

INTRODUCTION (Biblical Justification for the Jubilee Gathering)

“Consecrate the fiftieth (60th for this couple) year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.”  Leviticus 25: 10

“Mi ta hlawula lembe ra ntlhanu wa makume, (60 Ka Lavambirhi) mi va mi huwelela ku tshunxeka ka vaaki hinkwavo va tiko. Ri ta vaka n’wina e lembe ra ku tsaka ra Yubilee; un’wana ni unwana wa n’wina o ta tlhelela endzhakeni ya yena, kambe, unwana ni un’wana u ta tlhelela eka rikwavo.”   Levitika 25: 10


PURPOSE (Xivangelo Xa Nkhuvo Lowu)

Hi tele ku ta oka eka ndzilo lowu wu nga tshiveriwa hi 1957 – hi ku cata ka Tatana Zebedee na Manana Elizabeth. Ku ta oka vutivi bya (to learn lessons regarding):

  • Rirhandzu (Love)
  • Vukati (Matrimony)
  • Vutswari (Parenthood)
  • Vukokwani (Grand Parenthood)
  • Vupfumeri (Faith)
  • Vuxaka (Kinship)
  • Vuakisani (Good Neighbourliness)
  • Ntwanano (Harmony)
  • Matimu (History)
  • Vudzumba-a-swi vona (Wisdom)
  • Vutivi-‘kenta (Insight)
  • Vuvona-Kule (Foresight / Vision)
  • Dyondzo (The Value of Education)
  • Ta Mabindzu (Business)

Ku hlaya hinkwaswo i ku xurha (the list is inexhaustible).

Rirhandzu ni Vukati (Love & Marriage)

One opinion about love and marriage is “to keep a fire burning brightly there is one easy rule: keep the logs together, near enough to keep warm and far enough apart for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage, same rule.” (Mornie Reed Crowel).

Where Papa and Mama Silinda are concerned, where, when, and how did it all happen? The setting is choral, with Papa Silinda as conductor and Mama as one of the smashingly pretty choristers at Arthurseat (EMnombeleni). It was love at first sight. However the gallop to marriage was incentivised by the fact that married teachers at the time were better paid.

Ekubuleni ka mina na tatana Silinda u ndzi byele leswi:

  • Vukati byo tshiveriwa byi tlhela byi tshiveleriwa (marriage is lit up and kindled)
  • Vukati i Ximilani, bya cheletiwa (marriage is like a plant – it demands nurturing)
  • Vukati i xiluva, byi tamele hi vukheta (marriage is a flower, handle it with care)
  • Vufambelani i yinhla-nkulu (Complementarity is key)

When we look at Papa na Mama Silinda we observe that:

  • One is fast, the other slow
  • One is talkative, the other quiet
  • One is extrovert, the other introvert
  • One is from Mars, the other from Venus

Full, commendable complementarity!!

An Enquiring Mind

Tatana Silinda, just like Napoleon Bonaparte, knew and lived by the philosophy that: “why” and “how” are the words so important that they cannot be too often used. To wit:

  • Why Zoeknog? What does it mean and what is its etymology? He established that the word is of Dutch origin – soek nog in Afrikaans, which means keep seeking / searching / researching. This discovery was to be a guiding light in his life. His motto is innovate, keep reinventing yourself, continually inquire – it pays to be inquisitive.  
  • Why do principals like C T D Marivate do so well and live so comfortably? How can I surpass that? Answers to these questions propelled him to principalship and later to success in business.
  • Quizzical about the advent of Bantu Education. Maintained then and now that so-called mother-tongue education shrinks one’s world. That one needs to be a citizen of the world, and English being lingua-franca, facilitates this.

On Education

One Chinese Proverb states: “A single conversation across the table with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.”   I have had the fortune of having several conversations with Papa Zebedee Silinda (ZS) therefore I can boast multiples of lessons.

Through the lenses provided by Nicholas Murray Buttler I observed in him “The Five Evidences of (having) Education”, namely:


  1. Correctness and precision of speech. ZS is measured, eloquent, elegant and steeped in wise simplicity.
  2. Refined and gentle manners: ZS is remarkably respectful, empathetic and never interrupts.
  3. The Power and Habit of Reflection: Many of us like to think we think. ZS is among the few who do think but also reflects. One example is his observation that the Taxi Industry is potentially rich, if only members could organise and pool their resources.
  4. The Power of Growth: ZS started as a teacher, sharing responsibilities with one Rev Paul Dayhoff, a Church of the Nazarene Missionary at Arthurseat Secondary School. He then proceeded to start Green Valley Primary School almost single-handedly. When his elder brother, Benjamin, offered to introduce him to business, he grabbed at the opportunity with both hands and went into the Retail Trade (General Dealership) at Mariti. This begot multiple outlets tied together by the promotional activity dubbed Silinda Specials. That is phenomenal growth.
  5. The Possession of Efficiency – the Power to Do: A sense of efficacy. The boldness to say YES I CAN and PROCEEDING TO IMPLEMENT.

The history sketched above, outlining his meteoric rise from simple Teacher to Pioneering (Award Winning) Businessman in the then Eastern Transvaal Lowveld (now Mpumalanga Province) bears ample witness.

ZS’s sagacious advice on education is that it is a lifetime pursuit. “Pursue education relentlessly and use it to realise international citizenship. You should be able to work anywhere on the globe. That way you will not lament parochial unemployment.”

“Be multiskilled – avoid over-traded careers. Be innovative and adventurous. Explore new avenues.”

Vutswari – Vukokwana (Parental and Grand Parental Role)

ZS captures this pithily as follows:

  • Be generous with your affection.
  • Provide your children with open-ended opportunity to learn. If they do not succeed, they should only have themselves to blame.
  • Give them “a material start in life”.
  • As adults give them assistance only when this is called for; at all times render advice, even stern advice.

Sense of History & Kinship

ZS studied formal (written) history but also delved into the history of his own clan accessed from oral tradition. He has a keen sense of family history, which he sketches as per the following geneology:

Hi vana va Samuel

 Samuel wa Mgumejani The Great

Mgumejani wa Mpapani

Mpapani wa Mphuveni

Hi vaka Silinda. Va-Matlule. Matlula – Mbevani. Va n’wamathala – cholani, lavo rhandza hi tinyoka. Hi vamaluma – swirhendze hi fufuta. Va-kudya a ku na futa. Va-Mahlela-misava va khavuta. Vabyari va mpunga.

Sense of kinship: ZS’s approach is quintessentially African. He regards the Western notion of the nuclear family as an excuse to be stingy. His conception is generous, all encompassing. A family is not elastic – you neither stretch or contract it. You are either stingy or generous in your stance Wa tsonanan hi vuxaka; kumbe wa hanana. Va Silinda na Va-Ngobeni va hlawula ku hanana.

Sweswi se kuna Society leyi angarhelaka Va Silinida, Ngobeni, Mkhombo, Ndwani, Nyalungu, Mathebula, Sondlani, Mhisi.

Motto: A hi tivaneni ku hundza ku hlanganisiwa hi rifu. Ku Khomana ni ntwanano swi pfuna ni ku vona khomo ra ha ri kule.

Further Views on Family and Family as an Institution

“Marriage is like a plant. It needs to be nourished and ‘irrigated’. (Hambi wu ri ndzilo wa hlanganyeteriwa). Love is the fertiliser or nourishment. Communicating your thoughts and feelings is the lifeblood of any marriage. The so-called extended family provides the necessary safety net”.

“The scriptures provide both guidance and advice – that is your compass. Consider Samuel 1: 6 and Proverbs 8: 1 Glorify God; U nga tibi xifuva. Consult family and friends, Proverbs 15: 22”.

Core Description of Himself (ZS)

Asked about what characterises or drives him, ZS had the following to say:

  • I strive to love and help others.
  • I am grateful to God and other people for who and what I am.
  • I am passionate about what I do, without losing my sense of compassion about those around me.
  • I am and have been concerned about our own children, whilst cautious about the possibility of spoiling them.
  • We treasure our longevity and thank God for it. It should not be taken for granted.

Desired Legacy

Papa Silinda would like to be remembered as:

  • Ordinary man / couple, who served ordinary people in an ordinary way.
  • A couple that knew its capability as much as it knew its limitations.
  • A family that strove to be in harmony with the community including the Church of the Nazarene which they backed financially.
  • A family that believed that as important as autonomy is, interdependence is a higher value. This is viewed as an integral part of the guiding value system. (Rirtiho rin’ we a ri nusi hove).

Concluding Remarks (Marito Yo Hetelea)

Manana Elizabeth na Tatana Zebedee Silinda: Mintirho ya vuluvula. Yi vulavula hi ririmi le ri twisisiwaka hi mani na mani. Miyelani, mirtirho yona yi ta vulavula. Mintirho ya n’wina yi vulavurile. Ya vulavula. Ya ha to vulavula. Xa hina tani hi vana, vatukulu, maxaka, vaakelani ni rixaka, I ku khensa:

  • Khanimabo eka ku va Swiphophamberha swa dyondzo eAcorn-Bush.
  • Inkomu eka ku va swikombiso swa vutswari na vukokwana lebyinene.
  • Hi ba rikofu eka dyondzo leyi mi nga hi nyika tani hi community ya rirhandzu, ntwanano, ntwela-vusiwana, migingiriko.
  • Hi ba riphokophoko eka langavi leri mi nga lumeka ra swa mabindzu, ku sukela e Green Valley na makwenu-nkulu Tatana Benjamin Silinda, ku ya hundza e Mariti, Buyisonto, Mkhuhlu, Lillydale, Kildare, Ku ya fika kava NAFCOC (National African Federated Chamber of Commerce). Hi Khensa xitsundzuxo xa n’wina xa vumpunga (sagacious advice) lexi nge: “Tirhela mali evuntshweni bya wena, yona yi ta ku tirhela ekudyuhaleni ka wena.”
  • Khanimambo ku hi kombisa vuxaka lebyo hanana (Generous Kinship), byi nga ri lebyo tsonana (Stingy nuclear family focus).
  • Hi tlangela vurhangeri byo tsemakanya malwandle mi ya tekela mimoya mi ta yi haxa hale kaya.
  • Hi khensa ku hi dyondzisa hi Spirit of Zoeknog: Seek more, Explore, Innovate!!
  • Hi khensa ku tsundzixiwa hi:
    • Hindsight – learning from experience / history
    • Insight – the ability to see and understand the truth about people and situations in real time.
    • Foresight – the ability to predict or see beforehand what is likely to happen and to use this to prepare for the future.
  • Thank you for teaching us gratitude and giving us inspiration.

Tidyondzo to huma eka Tatana Zebedee na Manona Elizabeth Silinda ku hlaya i kuxurha. Lava va nga ni ndlala ri torha ro dyondza, fambani mi ya tshaha, fambani mi ya oka ndzilo wa vutivi ni ku hanyisana; fambani mi ya nusa munyu wa ku lunga rixaka leri sungulaka ku tshwama.