Slice of life: A gathering to say farewell



The garage door stood open, an awning over the heads of the women squeezed inside. In the driveway, brothers, cousins and friends stood talking, gesturing at the women seated at the tables inside. The rest of the men were seated in another space across the driveway. But the men who lingered there had the work of passing steaming bowls of biryani and sojee inside. It was important work. And in the afternoon heat, they stood in the driveway, ushering newcomers into the few empty seats closest to them.

The garage was already full. But there were vacant seats in the far corners of the garage. It just wasn’t possible to get there. So the men standing in the driveway, accepted with the small smiles of a freshly wounded grief, the well wishes of the people who continued to arrive. As servers squeezed themselves between the tables, delivering the plastic bowls of steaming food to trestle tables adorned with a simple paper cover, there was no space for quiet contemplation. And yet the air, already heavy with the early summer heat, was filled with a sense of closure.

The faces of people you’d last seen many, many, years ago, now older. Faces you knew as children now parents themselves. Some-one was looking for a bowl to refill the white rice. Someone else was looking for sojee. In the paper plates,potatoes broke easily beneath hungry fingers.

This was not an occasion for the performance of our acquisition of other people’s mannerisms. We ate with our hands as we had always done. And the food was good. It had to be. After all, we had gathered in the name of someone who had so generously fed so many himself. We had gathered to mourn, but in those moments, huddled together in a too-full garage on a too-hot afternoon, we had gathered the fragments of ourselves in a moment of togetherness, sharing a memory of someone well known, but better loved. — Khadija Patel, in memory of Ismail “Joe Jeeva” Vally, 1934-2019

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Khadija Patel
> Khadija Patel pushes words on street corners. She is the editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, a co-founder of the The Daily Vox and vice chairperson of the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI). As a journalist she has produced work for Sky News, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Quartz, City Press and the Daily Maverick, among others. She is also a research associate at WISER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Witwatersrand) and has previously worked in community media. In 2017, she was among 11 people from across Africa and the diaspora who were awarded the inaugural Africa #NoFilter fellowship from the Ford Foundation and in 2018, she was awarded honorary membership of the Golden Key Society. She is passionate about the protection and enhancement of global media as a public good. 

Safety at schools: ‘Keep your distance and your pen’

The department of basic education has developed guidelines to assist schools with minimising the spread of the coronavirus

‘Soon he’ll be seen as threatening, not cute’: What it’s...

There is no separating George Floyd’s killing from the struggles black people have faced ever since the first slave ships landed on these shores

How schools could work during Covid

Ahead of their opening, the basic education department has given schools three models to consider to ensure physical distancing

Press Releases

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday