Smiso Nkwanyana Road
Formerly Goble Road

S’miso Nkwanyana was a young lion of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and a leader of the party in KwaZulu-Natal. He was tipped for a bright future on the national stage when he died, aged 31.

Born in rural Melmoth in Northern KwaZulu-Natal in 1972, Nkwanyana grew up at a time when resistance to apartheid was intensifying and he later said that this left him with no choice but to join the struggle for freedom. After completing his education, Nkwanyana was elected provincial secretary of the South African Communist Party in KwaZulu-Natal in 1999 at a time when the party was in decline. He was just 27 and many within the party questioned whether he would be up to the task of rebuilding its fortunes.

As it turned out they needn’t have worried, Nkwanyana was so successful that the KZN branch was soon one of the party’s strongest. His peers described him as a dedicated cadre who followed in the footsteps of and built on the achievements of KZN communists such as Johannes Nkosi, Moses Mabhida, Stephen Dlamini, Harry Gwala and Mzala Nxumalo. Nkwanyana, they said, understood that to be a true communist meant placing the interests of the people above personal interests and he had a reputation as a people’s person who was dedicated to his work.

Nkwanyana was also known for his remarkable commitment to gender equality in both his political and personal lives. He constantly emphasised the need to ensure that the SACP did not simply pay lip service to gender equality. To this end he worked with the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union in KwaZulu-Natal to ensure that a joint gender-political school was held in June and an agreement was reached with the union to make this an annual event. Nkwanyana strove to educate himself and was a voracious reader of Marxist classics and contemporary communist literature.

He hated opportunism and careerism and was forthright in expressing his views. He took every opportunity to provoke debate on issues confronting the SACP, the ANC-led alliance and the revolution. Respect these qualities soon earned him the respect of the alliance in the province. He helped build a party that was fiercely independent, but at the same time loyal to the alliance. He never saw a contradiction between an independent party and membership of the alliance. He was also devoted to his family and was known never to start any long meeting without having called his wife, Gcina, to find out how she and their two children were. She described him as a family man whose best playmate was their daughter Olwethu.

He died in an earlymorning car crash in August 2003. According to a news report, Nkwanyana had left an all-night meeting to prepare for the South African Municipal Workers’ Union provincial congress, shortly before the accident.

Online, Sapa