For all those who knew Ambassador Eddie Sonwabo Funde and walked with him through the boulevard of struggle, none can contradict the fact that he was imbued with a spirit of no surrender. His path, a seesaw of unimaginable dimensions, would land him in different positions, on different continents and at different times.
A humble and unassuming gentle giant, he was always ready to serve the South Africa nation.
It was on the 22nd of May when we all received the sad and devastating news that Bra Eddie, as we fondly called him, passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Having joined the ANC after it was banned in 1961, he, like his peers of like mind, left the country in 1965 and joined Umkhonto we Sizwe, the spear and shield of the struggling masses of the people. He went on to study in Russia, gaining an MSc in Electrical Engineering in 1975.
In 1978, the ANC leadership appointed him to establish and head the ANC Youth Section.
The year 1980 smiled broadly on bra Eddie. It was then that he got married to Nosizwe Funde nee Toni in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she was pursuing her studies in engineering. The two love birds had been an ‘item’ since 1977.
He served the ANC in different parts of the world and in various capacities. In 1983 he was sent by the ANC as its Chief representative in Australasia and the Pacific.
He plunged into this work with his usual enthusiasm, building lasting friendships with Australians from all walks of life.
Back home Bra Eddie served first as Administrator and Researcher of the Civil Service Unit of the ANC. Later he was tasked with the establishment of the South African Research and Development.
Thereafter he served in an executive and non-executive capacity in the Independent Development Trust. He also served on key boards, including Denel, Eskom and Murray and Roberts.
Bra Eddie became very active in the telecommunication sector. He pioneered and developed the White Paper on Telecommunications Policy which resulted in the formation of the SA Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA) and became its deputy chairperson.
As Chairperson of the SABC Board from 2004 to 2008 Bra Eddie and his Deputy Christine Qunta transformed the public broadcaster, ensuring that it delivered on its mandate.
They both supported the noble idea of positioning the SABC as the best Pan African public broadcaster that would compete and come up with an alternative view to
well-established broadcasters like the BBC and CNN. SABC News International was born out of this initiative, an initiative that was later scuttled by forces of doom and regression.
It was during his deployment as Ambassador in 2010 that Bra Eddie met with an accident that confined him to a wheel chair. However, always optimistic, he carried on with his telecommunications initiatives and ANC political work.
The worst was when their house was burnt down in May 2016. They lost everything that they worked hard for. Bra Eddie did not lose heart.
Strong willed, Bra Eddie was part of the ANC stalwarts and veterans
delegation that met our ANC leadership and insisted that the Veterans League be revitalized and a second conference of the League be convened.
His dream of the conference was realized when our leadership agreed to the convening of the Veterans League conference in October 2017.
Bra Eddie, your calls will be missed. Every Monday or Tuesday, I would receive a call from you where you’d insist on being briefed on the activities of the Veterans League. Bra Eddie would say, Snuki!, I would reply good morning bra Eddie .In a conciliatory and persuasive tone, he would say “when and how is the Veterans League going to implement its resolutions and those of the ANC,in uniting society ,getting rid of corruption, factionalism and gate keeping. Remember ,he would say ,conference took a resolution that an electronic membership system which will get rid of gate keeping be introduced. When is your
collective going to establish the Veterans Leagues Branches and Regions. Veterans must be at the forefront of uniting the ANC and society. We must humble ourselves and admit where we have erred. As veterans we must do door to door campaigns and ensure that the youth registers to vote and that we regain our rightful place as the leader of society. History will judge us harshly if we as veterans do not actively participate and ensure that there is intensive political education in the structures of the ANC. You must ensure that Veterans participate in all ANC committees and give guidance where necessary. We must be at the forefront in mobilising society for a successful victory in the coming 2019 elections.”
Bra Eddie as Veterans of the ANC, we are always ready to serve and will not disappoint you.
We shall deeply miss you.
Lala Ngoxolo Bra Eddie. We will always miss your undying fighting spirit.
President of the ANC Veterans League