TESTIMONY: Seeking the Light in dark times — Wallace Mgoqi

Dr Wallace Mgoqi

Dr Wallace Mgoqi, who earned a reputation as an advocate for human rights and social justice during his long public career which included stints as a legal practitioner, a gender equality commissioner and head of the South African Land Claims Commission and acting judge in the Land Claims Court, shares a testimony about the darkest season of his life.

As human beings we are endowed with the benefit of hindsight — the ability to look back into our past and glean some lessons and some insights, arising from our actions. And as the years go by, this sense of looking back gets stronger and stronger.

On the eve of my 71st birthday on June 7, my mind is taken back to the darkest period that my wife and I went through — the period from 2006 until 2012.

On April 10 2006, after the DA defeated the ANC in the running of the City of Cape Town, the City Council passed a resolution terminating my employment as city manager.

I was sandwiched in the struggle between these two political giants, vying for political power for the province and the city governments.

The reason advanced for ending my contract was that I was seen not to be a neutral government official, but a partisan political animal aligned to the ruling party, the ANC.

I must admit this was not far from the truth, given my political background, born in the womb of black consciousness, and metamorphosed into non-racialism and all that goes with it. Black consciousness itself was a response to political domination, economic exploitation, and social degradation, by whites looking down upon blacks, making them feel inferior in many respects, in South Africa.

Wallace Mgoqi and his wife, Dolly, and other family members at this 70th birthday celebration last year

From this period of losing my city manager post it was to be downhill for us a family. I fought legal battles, with the dice loaded against me, with a High Court loaded with a majority of white judges, and even in the Appeal Court, in Bloemfontein, where the then judge president, CraigHowie, appointed two white judges to hear my appeal. They dismissed my appeal on papers, without a hearing and with costs.

At the beginning of 2007 I tried to open a legal practice to take up only civil matters, which were difficult to come by in the black community if you were not doing criminal cases, which I was reluctant to take up.

In 2008, with the economic recession biting, I had to close the practice and things spiralled further downwards.

By March 2009 we had to decide whether to wait for creditors to foreclose and sequestrate us or to voluntarily surrender our estate. We decided to do the latter.

In no time the bank came to repossess both our cars, and the house was to follow. This marked the beginning of seeing the hand of God in the affairs of men. A woman, who was visiting my wife, bringing her some goodies from Woolworths, saw a “House For Sale” sign. When she asked, what was happening, my wife explained that the bank was moving to sell the house as we had been sequestrated.

The lady, Nontando Nolutshungu, contacted her group of Western Cape Women Investments, and she and Nombeko Mlambo spearheaded a move to buy the house from their investments, so that we could continue to live in it until there was a breakthrough.

A picture from the 90s, showing from the left: Wallace Mgoqi, Judge President Fikile Bam, Minister Dullah Omar, Michael Richman (attorney), Geoff Budlender (Senior Counsel), who were members of the legal team on an inquiry into poverty in SA

By this time, we had no income, so we would not be able to pay any rent for the house. In fact, things became so bad that we could not afford electricity and had our water supply cut off more than once, and had to ask our white neighbour, Lionel Keith for water. He would use a hosepipe to provide us with water.

Once, while I was bending over to fill a container with water, I saw out of the corner of my eye, our neighbour’s huge, vicious dog, galloping towards me and I miraculously managed to just get out of its way and close the gate between us.

It was during this period, when we had reached rock-bottom, when it was completely dark, that an idea was planted in me to write an autobiography for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.

God’s light shines in the darkness. The light shines in the darkness, and darkness did not comprehend it. — John 1:5

An old friend of ours, now Apostle Linda Gobodo, gave me a book to read, God of the Impossible, a testimony by Pastor Tosin Macauley of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, who miraculously survived what would normally have been a fatal accident.

At the end of the book I saw an advert by a publisher, One Hour Books, whose owner, Dr Ajibike Olunhle Akinkoye, PhD, based in Dallas, Texas, USA, was inviting aspirant writers to send him their manuscripts for publishing.

I was inspired to complete my manuscript, which ended up being approximately 300 pages. The publisher wrote back to me saying they would produce two books from the manuscript: Grace and Discipline, Life Under Apartheid, and Living Beyond Apartheid.

This literary development happened in the midst of our darkest period, as the books were published in 2011.

Books that were conceived in the midst of a difficult season.

Sales of my books did not do so well in South Africa, as it was difficult to raise funds to order books from a higher currency , the dollar, for selling in a lower currency, the rand. This was a period of penury, hardship, sweat and tears.

In 2013, as we came out of our darkest years, we were rehabilitated, which meant I could be a director of companies again. I was appointed a commissioner on the Commission for Gender Equality, until June 2019, a seven-year tenure. Concurrently, I was appointed as an acting judge in the Land Claims Court, from January 2014 until October 2019. Throughout this time we rented accommodation as we were both over 65 and did not qualify for 20-year bonds.

We determined to trust the “God of the Impossible “ to provide us with our own home. We do not know how, and do not need to know. The God of the Impossible will do it. He knows best.

Fast-forward to 2020, the same publisher from Dallas had intimated last year that he planned to republish my two books.

This week he confirmed that he is ready to publish the books and put them on 39 000 websites, including Amazon.

Incidentally, in one of his comments after first publishing the two books, he said: “The benefit of hindsight is a gift from above.” This sounded so profound in my spirit, that it became the title for my third book, published in South Africa shortly thereafter. Its sales also did not go so well.

Now, all three books will be in one stable, published together, all over the world. This is cause for celebration and brings to mind Psalm 126 :

When the Lord brought back the captives of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“ The Lord has done great things for them”
The Lord has done great things for us;
We are glad.

Restore our captivity, O Lord,
As the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

My work of writing was conceived in our darkest hour. God shone His light even in that darkness and ignited and kindled a desire to write a simple manuscript, which resulted in two books — and now three books.

The takeaway here is that even in the darkest hour, do not throw in the towel, and give up. God’s light shines through the darkness and darkness recedes into the background.

We have to recite God’s Word in those very moments and say :

For you are my lamp, O Lord;

And the Lord illumines my darkness. — 2 Sam 22 :29.

For You light my lamp;
The Lord my God illumines my darkness. — Psalm 18:28 

Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You — Psalm 139 :12

 

Today Wallace and DollyMgoqi serve as voluntary marriage counsellors

BE ENCOURAGED !
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. — 1Cor 10: 11

NEVER GIVE UP!
Your test, trial and tribulation will be tomorrow’s testimony and will benefit others who will be similarly situated or worse off by giving them courage to draw from your experience .

We are now at a stage in our lives where we are pouring ourselves into the lives of younger couples through marriage counselling, drawing from the grace of being married for 46 years.

As our family friend Bishop Moagi Mike Khunou says in his book, God the Supreme Giver, one of God’s principles of giving is that “ he who has a need must give first“.

We give of our time free of charge, investing in the lives of younger people, to resolve conflicts in their marriages.

Another principle by which God operates is to ask you what you have in your hand, your personality or your house. He then takes what you have and multiplies it, as He is no longer in the business of creating but in the multiplication of what is already there.

As examples of this principle in action, our friend’s book cites Moses and the rod; the widow of Zarepath; the widow whose late husbands left her with debts and their sons were due to be sold — she too had to produce the oil left in the house, which was multiplied; the boy who had two loaves of bread and five fishes, which fed a multitude.

I, too, had to remember that I am capable of writing and to put that to good use. You, too, you have something that God has endowed you with. Find it and present it. He will multiply it.

My wife and I have many needs in our life, one of which is a place of our own which we can leave behind as inheritance for our children and our children’s children. So we use our time as a seed which we plant in the lives of others, believing that the God of the Impossible sees rewards those who diligently seek Him.

18 Comments

  1. Dr Mgoqi. I honour you and your perseverance and tenacity through what you have been through, without turning your back on our Lord and specially by not giving up, which is exactly what I did. I am pretty sure that there are millions like me, around the world who would benefit and be blessed and encouraged by your testimony. Perhaps it is time for you to move your tent pegs and maybe add buisness trauma control/teaching to the marriage counseling. South Africa is in desperate need now specially now after lockdown. Just saying. Lol. Stay Blessed and may the Lord pour out a blessing on your books that will exceed your wildest dreams.

  2. I’ve prayed and trust God with you for your own house. He is the God of the impossible! May God bless you and your family

  3. Mam Dolly and Dr Wallace, thank you for this testimony. I happened to visit you in 2009/2010 as we (myself and Ps Moagi Khunou) were doing training in Cape Town, Sea Point. I got your contacts from Mam Linda Gobodo through my brother-in-law Bulelani Mkhohliswa. We came to stay with you for two weeks in Durbanville in that difficult period when you were not sure whether you would still be in the house the next day or not but you accommodated us. I am in tears as I am writing this message thinking of what you were going through. The fact that you had to spend all your pension payouts to fight legal battles out of your pocket. I still remember that there was a time when Dr Wally had a terrible backache which had just miraculously started and could not easily make it from the front main gate through the stairs leading into the house. There was a problem arising one after another.
    One thing I remember is that as we were staying there you did not want to accept our free will offering of cash as we were pained by your narration of the situation. We had to force Mam Dolly in tears to give her our thank you for staying in your warm house. She was tirelessly cooking for us, keeping our rooms clean daily. It was comforting that we could pray with you every night and got challenged by the confidence, hope and faith you demonstrated in God Almighty. I am happy and joyful that the Lord is showing up in your life and will change your situation. Will keep on praying for you and family. May the good Lord richly bless you exceedingly abundantly above all that you could have ever thought of or asked for(Eph 3:20). Please be reminded of this: that the work that the Lord has startedin you, He will bring it to completion until the day of Jedus Christ (Phil 1:6). Amen. Give my love to Mam Dolly.
    Molly Malete 0731905543

  4. My husband, Kevin and I have the honour and privilege of knowing Tata Wallace and Mama Dolly intimately. If humility was a person(besides Jesus Christ) it is these 2. We are constantly inspired by their great faith in God.and their generosity. Tata Wallace leads a prayer group for men, which Kevin forms part of. They meet via zoom at 07:00 every Saturday morning. We love you Tata Wallace and Mamma Dolly. God bless you abundantly today and forever more.

  5. Greetings in Jesus Christ’s Mighty Name !
    This testimony made my day and contributed more and much hope in my walk and relationship with our ABBA FATHER!
    I only knew Dr. Wallace as a “politician/legal guru”. Did not know that he is a fellow brother in Christ together with his family.
    Thank you for your testimony/testimonies, it moved my level of faith/hope/trust in the Lord higher and higher…!
    Our Remmeder liveth, and will deliver us out of ALL our troubles.
    Re leboga Modimo ka lona bo-o-rra Mgoqi.
    (We thank God for you).
    To God be ALL the Glory.

  6. Greetings Doc Wallace, to you and Mama Dolly on this your special day. May the Lord shower his blessings upon you and the family in 2020.
    Maybe it was not coincidence that we have met on Saturday 23/05/2020, two weeks ago, when i have many times in the past 5 years or so ask myself, and many other comrades, who new you from the COCT & LAND CLAIMS days, what has happened to Doc Wallace? We all see you as a Nelson Mandela of Cape Town, who made many things possible for the previously disadvantaged & marginalized parts of our society, through the aforementioned institutions. The irony of it all was that we have been residing within 500metres from each other in the past 3years and we did not know it.
    And this is part of the sad realities of modern society. We don’t live anymore in close knit societies, but we fight our daily battles as a family in a cocoon environment. There is no more a value of “love thy neighbour as thy self”. Doc, we have engaged in fruitful debate in the past two weeks, on our morning brisk 7km walks, it is clear to me that the very young 71 years old, healthy and Great Dr Wallace Mgoqi, has still many talents to share with his fellow citizens of Cape Town, South Africa and the world. Aluta Continua Doc.

  7. A testimony to strengthen the resolve of those who find themselves in even the most hopeless situations to know that GOD DOES NOT GIVE YOU A BURDEN YOU CAN OR CARRY. As you pass through fire you are honed for greater things. We have not heard the last of the restorative power of his in your lives. Decisions based on racism are rude in South Africa. I pity Mmusi Maimane but he is young and us learning. Black lives matter

  8. Yoh Baba uMgoqi am a living witness of what you are talking about in this message, GOD is great and faithful to His children I remember the dancing shoes story, it was so true. We are all learning from the giants of Good, keep blessed with uNtombendala

  9. Dr Mgoqi,my eldest brother,you and your wife are so Rich ,that the enemy took all that he thought would break you into pieces,he did not know Whose were you.The enemy did not know that God cannot be bankrupt,as a result , everything that the enemy stole from you,he shall pay back,seven times.You dedicated your lives from youth to serve your Nation ,but you did not give up.I visited you in March just before the lockdown Announcement and I was amazed that you were still having those prayer meetings with men on Saturday mornings. Bhuti remember ” There is a God in Heaven ,who knows everything,this God is our Wealth that our parents left us with.Today is your birthday “Happy birthday to you Cirha”
    Your little sister
    Phumla Lenong

  10. Tat’uMgoqi,(my uncle’s childhood friend😊)
    Our God is a good Father and He surely shall finish His work in you. He promises that His word will never return to Him vain,(lizoqala lidale kuqala,alisoze libuyele kuye lilambatha).I declare that the God of provision will provide all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus Amen!

    Thank you noMama for you love and guidance,may He fill you daily in return 100 fold.
    Ngothandokazi-Penny

  11. Tshepiso Ramakarane

    Good evening Chief. I am lost for words . I have always admired your ability to smile and remain jovial despite adversity. I shared your pain then but one never knew the gravity of your situation because you remained positive. God granted you the fortitude not only to make it through the most difficult period but remain cheerful and graceful. May God bless you and Sis Dolly abundantly.

  12. Thank you tat’uMgoqi for such an encouraging testimony..Indeed our God is the God of impossible..

  13. This is so inspiring, God is good all the time. I’m so encouraged. There is light 💡 at the end of all our tunnels. My mom sent me this link cause I’m facing my own challenges. I’m so pleased I read it and consumed the good gospel fro. You tat’Wallace Enkosi Tata. Be blessed no’Mama

  14. What a testimony. So encouraging and empowering. Thanks for opening up and remind us that he is still Jehova Yahweh, the covenant keeping God. In the absence of things he remains the same. Phambili bo Mgoqi abahle !!!I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity life has afforded me to have met and be a part of this holy Godly family, it flows from the top to the bottom, what am I saying is y’all are just but amazing, as I happen by God’s divine appointment to be a Spiritual daughter of your youngest sibling, the Queen of hearts herself , the First Lady Phumla Lenong, iyooh Family mnintsi u Thixo apho kuni, izibele zakhe mazihlale njalo, apho kuni!!! Thanks. Much love & blessings always.

  15. Would like to read your books, hope I will find them at bookstores. So amazing being a product of black Consiousness and you are a bible believer. I will also be celebrating my 71th birthday on the 12th June. So hallow ‘Ntanga’

  16. Nandipha Mbanga

    Yhooo Tata

    Thank you for the testimony. My mom Naledi Motlhabane Madlingozi sent me this link because of numerous reasons. .1. You are both from eMhlangeni 2. You were in the same class at Healdtown 3. The Lord Almighty is a God of miracles.

    Thank you so much, I can now say it out loud, unequivocally that ‘He who began a good work within you, will never leave nor forsake you’..I admire your resilience Tata in the midst of adversity, you have the faith of Job. I will definitely buy your books, read them and keep them next to Tata Tambo’s and Tata Madiba’s on my bookshelf .

    May the good Lord supply all your needs according to His riches in glory.

  17. Hey Chief, how are you! I’m inspired. You’ve always been my role model due to your modesty and an accomodative character. As ntate Remakarane says in his post, your jovial nature is an asset that makes you a good leader. Your farewell speech when you left the Land Claims Commision remains etched in my memory. Bra Mike Khunou was my boss at his legal practice at Mogwase, Rustenburg. I wish you and you family strength.