For Comrade Vuyisile Mini
(Born in 1920 – Executed in 1964)

Your voice rang out, comrade Mini,
as you walked to the gallows.

You sang, comrade Mini,
you sang the songs of defiance and of freedom!

You were born in a country, rife with racial prejudice,
a second-class citizen, in the land of your ancestors,

and you grew into a gallant fighter,
a Trade Unionist,
a member of The Spear of the Nation Umkhonto we-Sizwe,
a poet, a father, a husband, a comrade-in-arms!

A true South African patriot,
you stood tall,

singing as you walked to the gallows,

singing songs of defiance and freedom and struggle.

Today we remember you, comrade Vuyisile Mini,
and we honour your sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice.

And though the Apartheid regime may have cut your song short,

you live today!

You live in the voices of the children,

voices that sing in Khayelitsha,
in Gugulethu, Soweto, KwaMashu, Mamelodi, Atteridgeville,

You live in the rivers and in the streams,
from Limpopo to Mpumalanga to KwaZulu-Natal.

you live in the rich soil of your beloved South Africa.

You live in our mornings, our bright African mornings,
your spirit rolls over the plains and peaks and valleys,
of this land that is still healing,

you live, comrade Vuyisile Mini!

You live.


The Struggles Continue…


The following account is taken from the South African History Online website ( :

Ben Turok, a previous co-accused of Mini’s in the 1956 Treason Trial, was serving a three-year term in Pretoria prison for MK activities at the time of Mini’s execution. He recalled the last moments of Mini’s (44), Khayinga’s (38) and Mkaba’s (35) lives in Sechaba, the official ANC journal:

“The last evening was devastatingly sad as the heroic occupants of the death cells communicated to the prison in gentle melancholy song that their end was near… It was late at night when the singing ceased, and the prison fell into uneasy silence. I was already awake when the singing began again in the early morning. Once again the excruciatingly beautiful music floated through the barred windows, echoing round the brick exercise yard, losing itself in the vast prison yards.

And then, unexpectedly, the voice of Vuyisile Mini came roaring down the hushed passages. Evidently standing on a stool, with his face reaching up to a barred vent in his cell, his unmistakable bass voice was enunciating his final message in Xhosa to the world he was leaving. In a voice charged with emotion but stubbornly defiant he spoke of the struggle waged by the African National Congress and of his absolute conviction of the victory to come. And then it was Khayinga`s turn, followed by Mkaba, as they too defied all prison rules to shout out their valedictions. Soon after, I heard the door of their cell being opened. Murmuring voices reached my straining ears, and then the three martyrs broke into a final poignant melody which seemed to fill the whole prison with sound and then gradually faded away into the distant depths of the condemned section.”

Mini’s unmistakable bass voice, ringing out loud and clear, sent his final message in Xhosa to the world he was leaving. Charged with emotion, but stubbornly defiant, he spoke of the struggle and of his absolute conviction of the victory to come. After his 1964 execution, Mini was secretly buried in a pauper’s grave at Rebecca Street Cemetery in Pretoria.

Mini is remembered not only for how many unions and workers he organised but, as Luckhardt & Wall put it, “more importantly for the spirit and dedication they brought to the struggle.” To honour his stand, the ANC Mission Office in Tanzania opened a Furniture factory that was known as the Vuyisile Mini Factory (VMF). In addition many of the songs sung by the freedom fighters of today are Mini’s compositions. The bodies of Mini, Khayinga and Mkaba were exhumed in 1998 at Rebecca Street Cemetery in Pretoria and he was given a heroes funeral in Port Elizabeth.

– from the South African History Online website ( :