Official farewells for two activists

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared two special provincial official funerals in the Eastern Cape this weekend.

Actor/playwright Dr Winston Ntshona died on August 2 at his Port Elizabeth home and former South African ambassador to Norway Stephen Gawe died on July 18 in the UK.

Gawe was born on January 5 1938 in King William’s Town, at St Chad Mission House. He matriculated at St Matthews in 1955 before joining the University of Fort Hare. His BA Honours studies were disrupted when he was detained at Fort Glamorgan for underground ANC activities.

Gawe was the son of the late reverend Walker Gawe, who was actively involved in the formation of the ANC before it was banned.

Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle, through his spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo, said shortly after his release, Gawe left the country to study at Trinity College, Oxford, Edinburgh and Nottingham universities. Gawe’s work started in the ANC offices in London under then representative Mendi Msimang.

“Later he became the ANC’s chief representative in Italy. Post-apartheid he became ambassador to Norway and a director of the diplomatic school in the department of international relations,” Kupelo said. Before he retired Gawe was the ambassador to Denmark.

Ntshona was born in 1941 in Kwazakhele in Port Elizabeth.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said Ntshona was a recipient of the National Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for his excellent contribution to the theatre and arts in the country.

“Mr Ntshona was a protest theatre stalwart who captivated audiences globally and earned a prestigious Tony Award for best actor from the American Theatre Wing and Broadway League for his seminal performances in the political dramas Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island,” Diko said.

Sizwe Banzi was a collaboration with John Kani and Athol Fugard.

“Dr Ntshona has made an enormous contribution in the field of performing arts, theatre, politics, sports and youth development,” Kupelo said.

Ntshona will be buried in Port Elizabeth on Friday, and Gawe will be buried in Peelton on Saturday.