– Celebrating the life and times of a Community hero, struggle veteran –
It is indeed humbling and historic to stand this day here in Greenpoint with the political leadership of this area a Township in Kimberley where we as family spent approximately a decade of our lives.
All of my siblings were born in different towns and cities of South Africa, the direct result of the suppression and abuse of the apartheid evil system who vilified and chased my father and used all forms of systems to destroy his noble spirit.
This veteran of Freedom struggle was born in Sophiatown Johannesburg on March 1, 1933. His famous saying, beware the ides of March. He completed his high schooling at Livingstone High in Cape Town. He later qualified from Hewat Teachers Training College as teacher and served as principal. Though he was for short period raised in Hopetown the place his Father also a School Principal made his home, the apartheid system banished him to the far-flung areas. He would spend time as an educator amongst others in De-Aar (where he met the love of his life Mona Mercy Reed a teacher until the time of her retirement), Okiep, Lelie-Fontein – Namakwaland, Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape and Greenpoint. Out of this union of love embrace 6 children 5 boys and one daughter were born.
Yet of all the places my Father lived in, he was most comfortable in Greenpoint, though we as a family only lived here between 1968 – 1976 (8years) years. It is to the dusty un-tarred roads of Greenpoint that he would disappear after we left 1976. He would from time to time return to Greenpoint where he laboured endlessly and tirelessly making people aware of their rights and the need to fight against Apartheid. His professional teaching career saw him teach in Greenpoint, Windsorton, Holpan, Steelwater, and Namakwaland Holy Cross in Lusikisiki where he among others was principal and many other places.
Dad’s non-gratifying appetite and passion for Law, would see him spend hours in court as listening to a variety of cases, this was his pet hobby, he at some given the command of 9 languages (something I regret not having, quietly blaming him for) served as interpreter in the Magistrates court of Kimberley. Greenpoint remembers him for his tireless work as community member his passion the upliftment of this community.
In his early days, he was a fearsome striker and soccer player dubbed early on as Dr. Linc, for his profound intellect, natty attire, and capacity to logically argue anything. His command of the English language was unique and his acumen unparalleled. An erudite scholar with a razor sharp mind and an aptitude for law and history second to none. I shall never forget how in my first year of University of Western Cape, I landed up for an unknown reason in the office of the Rector, then Professor Dicky Van Der Ross, upon on enquiring on my last name he was pleasantly surprised to meet me and spend the next 10 minutes telling me about my dad, Dr. Benny Kies and those of that era who made up unique souls with a grasp on politics. He was active in the Unity Movement, and took issue with the coloured brothers like the late Sonny Leon whom he openly accused of selling out.
Dad Pappa for the older siblings, Dadda as we his youngest two sons and Deh for my only sister who is the youngest called him, concluded his teaching career at Crystal High Hanover Park on the Cape Flats, as a History teacher. He passed on quietly after he was comatised on August 31, 2002 at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg literally less than 2 kilometres from where he was born 69 years earlier. One of the things my dad was known for, was his wit. On an ocassion Mom cornered him in asking him, Lincoln why did you not attend any of your children’s weddings, his response to her in vintage Lincoln mind ” Mona were they at my wedding”.
A soldier of note he never let it show that he was battling prostate cancer. Thus completing the full circle of this nomadic, meandering life and journey in which Greenpoint featured strongly.
He remains survived by one sister Grace Smith, his wife, and all his six children. I fear no contradiction that if he was alive today he would have taken issue that the roads of Greenpoint in democracy remain un-tarred.
It was at 236 Makolane Street, now 23 Makolane Street, where I as his youngest then sat in the lap of the late ‘Prof’ Robert Sobukwe (as mom recall) as they would converse on a variety of issues constituting the way forward for South Africa’s and the African’s. It was at the same house where the late Bra Aggrey Klaaste of the Sowetan, would share with my dad pensive reflections on writing, since he published regularly in the DFA. It will become our mission as part of his soon to be launched Foundation to source all the many articles he penned and were captured in the Diamond Fields Advertiser.
My dad or as he forever will be known OOM BOY, would defiantly play at top volume on the grammaphone ‘Remake the World, too many people are suffering…, a banned song at the time. When the police would rock up to arrest him, he would engage in deep debate often swaying the very police who would leave our home without arresting him. The apartheid system brutalised him and our family as he lament on ocassion to me, ” Son, I had wanted to leave for London in 1960 when all my friends left, tired of the haunting, sick of the terror, but your Mom did not want too, and I understand, but my life spiralled out of control after that”. As a family we had on several ocassions returned to Greenpoint to fetch him, when he was ill, he had options where to live, Johannesburg or Cape Town, yet he preferred when he was healthy again to return to Greenpoint. We the younger ones did not share a close bond but Mom, never allowed us not see him as dad. As a matter of fact every June 27 Mom & Dad’s anniversary we all have to call her and wish her well, because she would not be to happy if any of us forgot it. The man was an institution, I always say, I had been priveleged to sit at many great professors feet, I equally now in my own life engage many more of the same ilk, yet none stands in the shadow of Bra Linc’.
He was Greenpoint’s lawyer, Greenpoint’s ‘Mayor’; long before it had a councillor. He would help people get their grants, identity documents, marriage certificates and register their children’s births often in the end paid with a ‘dop’. We at some stage felt he loved Greenpoint more than us his children. He would write in the DFA and raise the consciousness of abuse and injustice that Greenpoint residents suffer. The love affair he had with Greenpoint never stopped, he is accredited for having led the delegation to have the first Premier of the Northern Cape Manne Dipico’s matrimonial negotiations.
Dad’s attests to that of a man who knew or had no half- measures, he knew only to be sold out to his convictions.
Today we stand here receiving this Centenary Flame fully conscious of the uniqueness of this moment, we know we will never have another chance ever again in history to witness this occasion.
Our sincere gratitude is herewith expressed to the ANC Leadership at National, Provincial, and all levels and in particular at the local Greenpoint Level for having found it fit to honour the memory of our dad with naming this branch after him. Thank you for stopping in Greenpoint with this the Centenary Flame.
My brother Nathan Baldwin (one of the original founders of POPCRU) and I, hereby receive this Flame of Hope on behalf of our entire family with a deep sense of appreciation, humbled in trepidation and blessed beyond measure that my dad, had left for us and Greenpoint this uncontested and huge legacy. Consciously aware of the greatness of this moment, the uniqueness of it in time place and space. Bra Linc, was never rich in the material, but he was wealthy in community service. If I am in any sense today finding myself though based in Gauteng active in the rural hinterlands of the Northern Cape to assist the process of normalising schooling for the Olifantshoek and Kuruman communities it is perhaps out of the same cup that Oom Boy drank.
We equally pledge to uphold this legacy in as much as we can. We solemnly declare our unwavering support for this 100-Year-old Unparalleled Movement, Africa’s Oldest Movement, pledging our part to play in whichever way and manner it finds fit us to deploy.
Halala ANC , Halala Greenpoint, Halala OOM Boy, Bra Bigs, TJ 10, may your spirit live on, in all of us….Forward with the fight against Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty…. Long Live Oom Boy Long Live the ANC.
Bishop Clyde N.S. Ramalaine
September 25, 2012