Africa-Press – Botswana. The late anti-apartheid icon and founding president of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dr Michael Dingake lived a life of courage and faithfulness, even in the midst of adversaries.

Such was the portrayal of Dr Dingake by various speakers during his memorial service at Notwane Grounds on April 13.

Dr Dingake, who spent 15 years imprisoned at Robben Island, South Africa during the liberation struggle died on April 7 at Sidilega Private Hospital after a short illness. He was 96 years old.

“Our faith is not to outdo others but to remain faithful to what we believe in, Michael Dingake has kept the faith,” Rev Rupert Hambira of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) said about the deceased icon.

Even in the midst of trial and tribulations such as torture meted on him by the apartheid regime, he said Dr Dingake never gave up on what he believed in, which found him admirers. Therefore, he urged Batswana to be courageous and stand for what they believe was right even when odds were against them.

Dr Dingake, a native of Bobonon, left for South Africa to further his studies and soon identified with the South African struggle for freedom, joining African National Congress (ANC) in 1952 and served in its various capacities and structures such as South African Communist Party and Umkhonto we Sizwe.

However his liberation activism was halted when he was arrested in 1965 and sentenced to 15 years at Robben Island.

His brother, Justice Professor Key Dingake described him as an embodiment of discipline, principle and quality. “He was never afraid to walk in the valley of the shadow of death to liberate his people”, he said, adding that at family level, Dr Dingake inspired them to fight for justice.

Justice Dingake, who said he was only three-years-old when his elder brother was sentenced to Robben Island, said the elder Dr Dingake lived a life of serving others without an expectation.

After seeing off his sentence, Dr Dingake was in 1981 deported back to Botswana where he worked for the University of Botswana and later joined the local political activism, which saw him elected vice president of Botswana National Front (BNF), and won the 1994 parliamentary seat to become Gaborone Central legislator.

“He lived a full life, he may not have fulfilled his wishes by the way he lived his life, but he lived a full life,” said Mr David Magang, a prominent businessman and former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator and cabinet member.

He said even at his advanced age Dr Dingake, was fearless, adding that they continued to work together even after their parliament days, adding that the late even took part in his autobiography documentary.

Botswana Democratic Party secretary general, Mr Kavis Kario said the late Dr Dingake, though a Motswana, sacrificed his youth for the South African struggle. “We take comfort in the legacy that he leaves and believe it will inspire generations to come,” he said.

Dr Dingake who also was a human right activist was not afraid to advocate for gender justice according to Dr Onalenna Selolwane of Emang Basadi. “He was not afraid to show his support for Emang Basadi, even when it was considered unpopular. He believed he was a man and a bit of his mother and he was proud of his feminine side,” Dr Selolwane said.

Dr Dingake’s youngest son, Mr Lesang Dingake described his father as brave, confident, forgiving and lived well with everyone he came across, adding that Dr Dingake would always choose what was morally right to do over even himself.

ANC representative and Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr Thabang Makwetla said Dr Dingake was not a self-centered person, who despite being a Motswana gave himself to fight in the liberation struggle in South Africa.

He added that Dr Dingake remained humble on his contributions to the freedom of South Africa and its social justice struggle.

Other camaraderie messages came from Botswana National Front and the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) from eSwatini.

An author and newspaper columnist, Dr Dingake books include My Fight against apartheid, The Politics of Confusion, Apartheid, Questions and Answers and My Mother was a Woman.

The late Dingake was bestowed an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Botswana in 2022 as well as being awarded The Order of the Grand Companion of OR Tambo Silver in 2007 by the South African government among others.

Buried on Sunday, he is survived by his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

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