Life is for living, says Zuleika Mayat

2009-12-09 00:00

ZULEIKA Mayat, a founding member of an historic cultural group for Indian women and editor of the best-selling cook book, Indian Delights, drew a capacity audience of over 200 women at a fundraising brunch for the Nizamia Islamic School.

The inspirational Mayat (83) also used the occasion to launch her latest book, whose publication came about quite by chance.

The book, Dear Ahmedbhai Dear Zuleikhabehn is a collection of letters exchanged by Mayat and Robben Island political prisoner Ahmed Kathrada.

Mayat was involved in an accident in which she lost both her husband and her sister. Kathrada, who was friends with her brother, wrote from prison to offer the family his condolences. By the time the letter arrived, Mayat’s brother was back in Canada. She was encou­raged by her mother to reply. “My mother said to me this man is in jail, yet he thought about us. We need to show appreciation for his concern,” Mayat said.

So began a correspondence that lasted 10 years.

All the letters were carefully filed and remained in folders until early this year. According to Mayat, she was approached by historians Goolam Vahed and Thembisa Waetjen, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who wanted to record the history of the Women’s Cultural Group. She gave them her files after which they told her they were going to compile it into a book.

The hostess for the morning, Basheera Ebrahim, said the book is written in the most beautiful English and filled with both humour and sadness.

Mayat was one of a handful of Muslim women who acquired a post-matric education. She had her audience listening intently as she told them about growing up in a small rural Transvaal town which had only a primary school.

The boys in the family could go off and live with relatives in other towns to attend high school, but this option was not available to girls. Mayat studied by correspon­dence and pursued her love of writing by sending letters to penpals and to the local newspapers.

She encouraged the women present to use their talents to the full.

“Nobody is born spectacular; we all have different gifts. It is up to us to find what those gifts are and reach our potential.”

Mayat also advised them to be open-minded and to take chances.

She had her audience laughing at her descriptions of travel exploits with her late husband. They arrived in Nigeria without visas soon after it gained independence. Her husband managed to find the right contacts and they were able to experience being in one of the first African countries to gain independence.

Their travels in the 60s and 70s took them to places such as Afganistan, where they orga­nised visas to get into Russia. She said they always chose to stay in local hotels where they could mingle with the people.

Her message to the audience is that life is for living, learning, caring for others and reaching one’s true potential.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.