Tribute to Geoff Makhubo

Geoff my Friend, my Brother

So you went away,

Without warning, on tiptoe,

And you chose to do so at a moment when your city, Johannesburg, your country, South Africa, and your continent, Africa, were such in need of your kind of leadership, deeply rooted in the human value of Ubuntu and oriented at the service of  the people,  a message for true Africanity of which you were an intimate bearer.

Praises, you will have, amply deserved.

But will they be able to fill the immense void that you leave in us from now on?


We, who witnessed your personal investment in the success of the Africities Summit, the flagship event of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, hosted in the City of Johannesburg in November 2015.

We, who counted on your optimism for this Continent, which you suffered from the fact that it despaired so much of its youth when it is so immensely endowed.

We, for whom you have so often played your role of watchman, in any situation, without fear, with the great and the small.

I was the lucky beneficiary of this flame that burned in you, sporadic moments, even fleeting, but of an intense luminosity.

I benefited from this appetite for analysis and measurement, which is the mark of great minds.

I saw in you a great mind that accepted to be submitted to the test of the reality of deep Africa, far from the palaces, the plateaus, and the theater of representation that we confuse with a successful life,

On the bumpy paths of our dear Continent, in search of hopefuls to present to the youth of Africa and the world,

You served your city, your country, your continent with dedication and devotion,

You were convinced that it was necessary to change the rumor about Africa, to install in people’s minds and hearts the image of an Africa that is proud of its past and sure of its capacity to finally be master of its future,

Over the last few years, as all of us, you have observed the slow but inexorable maturation of this rise of Africa on the world agenda,

Not only in terms of mobilization of human charity in favor of and I quote “this poor continent which would not have entered the history” end of quote, the history written of course by the sword bearers and the cannon sellers,

But now as the new frontier of the world, the cradle of humanity belatedly recognized, as well as the largest reservoir of natural resources and soon of population of the world, thus closing the loop that makes Africa the alpha and omega of the human species on planet Earth,

As a local government leader, you told us how important it is to present this perspective to African youth so that they become aware of the noble lineage to which they belong, and of the global responsibility which they are now invested with, to define the paths towards a higher order of humanity, where solidarity and sharing will have taken precedence over sterile competition of all against all and every man for himself that fuel xenophobia, racism, inequalities and systematic injustice.

You told us that time has come when the recent history of Africa as drawn on a map in a Tea Party held in Berlin, Germany, in 1885, and reflected in the post-colonial African states, must give way to a dynamic coming from within, carried by an irresistible rise of the Africa of the Peoples, the one that finally settles the accounts with the tears and mutilations of the colonial order, and rebuilds the future by overcoming factitious borders,

Some people smiled sympathetically at such naivety and sweet dreams,

But don’t the events and decisions of the recent history of our continent prove you right, when we see the recent adoption by the Members States of the African Union of the Agreement of the Continental Free Trade Area, which constitutes the cornerstone of the Africa We Want, an Africa that masters her destiny and is custodian of the building of a better and fairer world, because concerned with the equal dignity of all human beings?

I would have liked to continue this conversation with you, and explore how local and regional governments should concretely initiate this shift towards building solid foundations for a finally united Africa. Remember. This was precisely the topic of the Africities Summit in Johannesburg: the contribution of African local and regional governments to the implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063. But your breath has stopped, and this stop makes us legatee of a great testament: to pursue your dream of building the Africa of the Peoples from Cape to Cairo.

Be assured, from where you are watching us now, that we will make sure that thousands, hundreds of thousands of young people on this Continent are aware to turn the page of the colonial legacy, to send back to the rebus of history the micro-states of the division of Africa, and to make rise an immense wave carried by this Ubuntu that Africa is proud to offer to the world.

Then, as the tale has it, the Elder Son will have played his part, so that the world will finally become a better place to live in for everyone.

Geoff, my Friend, my Brother,

Rest in peace. You were taken away too early to the affection of your family, your city, your continent that you loved so deeply. You were taken away too soon from our affection.

African wisdom says that the dead are not dead. They are in the sun that shines, in the stars that glisten, in the wind that rustles.

The dead are not dead

Geoff in us, you remain more alive than ever, in us you will never die

Rest in peace my Dear Friend, My Dear Borther

May the African land of our Ancestors be light to you



UCLG Africa  Secretary General