A Tribute to our Mother: Sindzisani Evelyn Khoza, Neé Zitha

By Dr Reuel J. Khoza  I  28 June 2014


I feel obliged to freed St Ambrose’s admonition that “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks”. Cecero accentuates this by proclaiming that “Gratitude, is not only the greatest of all virtues but the parent of all others,” I have a great deal for which I have to be grateful.

First and foremost the inexplicable blessing of having a biological mother of my own – not in the surrogate sense of a Mother Theresa – to call mother at the age of SIXTY FIVE. My siblings and I together with our offspring’s consider ourselves truly blessed.

Evelyn my mother, was a prolific relationship builder and nourisher. The multitude of she warmly and affectionately befriended perforce became our kith and kin.  This became abundantly clear since our mother passed on eight days ago. Wave upon caring and sympathetic wave of humanity flowed into my mother’s humble abouts to personally express their condolences. Just as frequent and numerous were soothing messages transmitted electronically and on paper. For all these heartfelt messages as well as your esteemed presence here today, our gratitude defies limits.

Our thanks irresistibly extents to the various medical and related teams which cared for our mother during her last several years as she inexorably grew frail and feeble. Doctors Nebath Mnisi, Caswell Nkuna, Eddie Mhlanga and Rob Nel went beyond the call of duty to treat and care for our mother. Seasoned nursing sisters Esselyn Khoza, Sanelisiwe Mthethwa and Nomsa Dlamini hovered around our mum like God-sent Cherubim’s and Seraphim’s divinely dispatch to dispense tender-loving therapy and care. Thembi, the permanent  caregiver to our mum were just as angelic. Please accept our unconditional indebtedness.

It is well-nigh impossible to mention everyone by name. There are many others who cared and extended their help in unique ways, for example brother Dyke Mxumato donating an entire ox to cater for our compassionate guests. Our in-laws, colleagues, community based organisation and burial societies, not forgetting our preachers and local fellow Christians from the Church of the Nazarene at Ludlow and Acornhoek, we owe you a profound debt of gratitude.

May I now turn my attention to paying tribute to our beloved mother, Sindzisani Evelyn Khoza.

Charles de Gaulle, former French President opines that “One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day was; one cannot judge life until death.” Yes indeed the death of our mother hits home with thunderous impact. The gaping void she leaves in the Khoza Family as generously defined defies description, her octogenarian status notwithstanding several friends and relatives who came to console us were at pains to point out that she has had good lining, she had to go the way of all flesh. Axiomatically vivid as truism is, it is still hard to ingest and digest for us as her children to simply accept. Typically people tend to feel things about their parents rather than think things. As a matter of fact we had entered into a covenant with our Mum at her 83rd birthday that she should live to be 110 years old.

But alas, truth to speak, humans propose–as in prayer–the ultimate prerogative to dispose is God’s.

To paraphrase Arnold Glasow: “A good mother lives so she is a credit to her children.” So one might ask, in what way is our mother’s life a credit to us? Well, in numerous ways:

  • Elephantine Memory: and Deep Sense of History Our Mother took trouble to research, study and understand the Khoza and Zitha families in historical perspective. She traced back the genealogy of both families at least seven generations. She also knew and loved most of the Khoza and Zitha clans, by and knew them by name.
  • Generosity of Spirit: Her bountiful generosity of spirit was like a magnet, attracting kith and kin as well as members of our community. Particularly during the last years of her life, there was a steady flow of guests who lavishly reciprocated her generosity of spirit.
  • Profound Faith in Christ and the dogma of her denomination: She and her late husband, Pius Masaswiwona was called to the ministry in 1956. Since then she has been true and steadfast to her religious belief. Our denomination believes in TITHE setting aside one tenth of your income to the Lord through your church. Even as a pensioner, our mother insisted on paying her tithe without fail.
  • Perennial Parental Advice: We will remember our mother for her unfailing propensity to give parental advice. Some five years ago she called her five remaining children to her abode. Her advice was captured in one pithy sentence: Vana vanga tihandzeleni (My children fend for yourselves. She even had the audacity to advise me on business leadership. My qualifications and experience notwithstanding, she admonished: In order for you to succeed in business and life in general, you must cultivate and nourish relationships. Respect people and they will in turn respect you.

In concluding may I say this to our mother: Mom, you lived your life abundantly. You learnt as much as you could in your generation. You loved unconditionally generously. You leave a legacy worthy of emulation. We accept your transition to the hereafter. We choose to believe in Maxim Gorky’s opinion that “Only mothers can think of, the future, because they give birth to it in their children.” Our faith teaches us that death is not terminal, it is transitional. Neither is death a cul de sac; it is in your belief and ours as taught by you, a golden passage to external life.


Minanda – Phethe, Mbandezikhayi, Nkanyana
Nkanya – vurhena, Nkanya tinguvu uya
Ku tipfuneni, Mhlabe
Uzitha akaqali muntu, U-bheko mga- layo.
Va Ka mamba ya ntima, mamba – vurhena eyo tshika
Nomo yi luma hi ncila. Ndhebizetha - Nkanyani