Junior slept laughing

2012-09-15 19:09

Not only was he an erudite wordsmith, Motsei was a humble servant of God

It was a decreed coincidence that a daily newspaper, in publishing the tragic death of Pastor Junior Motsei, it also, on the opposite page, ran a quote from 1 Peter 2 verse 16: “Live as free men but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil. Live as servants of God.”

While this could be construed as an admonishing to the shenanigans of some politicians during this tragicomedy that the Marikana mine disaster has become, it also validates the life of a journalist who was a pastor, an erudite wordsmith, a former clinical boxer and a down to earth humble servant of God.

While those in his craft are still reeling from the recent passing of Charles Mogale, an equally gifted man of words, Motsei’s life has been snuffed out by a heartless motorist who celebrates month-end with reckless abundance.

The hit-and-run motorist has retreated to his pathetic life oblivious of the fact that it will be devoid of material and spiritual abundance.

The irony is that it is Motsei who will selflessly plead a case for him to God as this was his nature.

He never bore grudges.

Besides being an informed and creative boxing scribe, Motsei had the capacity to delve into analytic and interpretive writing.

His pen was endowed with knowledge of the frailties of mankind.

Why, one pondered, was he never harnessed as an analyst of the social, economic and political dynamics that flood our consciousness on a daily basis.

To say that he was one of my protégés would be a glimmer of ambition on my behalf.

His spirituality was such that it was the heavens that dictated his journey on this earth.

Long before I bumped into his space, it was designed in the heavens that I would be one of his leverages.

It was in the 80s that fate negotiated our meeting.

I had been operating as a news editor at The Star newspaper when I decided that as a black journalist, I had reached the ceiling at this white-controlled publication.

When Joe Latakgomo, then editor of the Sowetan, invited me to join him as his deputy, I had relished the challenge of being at the helm of a newspaper that catered mainly for black readers.

With the newspaper’s news editor Thami Mazwai languishing in detention, I took over his position.

Determined as I was to give it my best shot, I read and edited everything including letters to the editor.

Editing letters to the editor is supposedly a mundane activity.

Then one day, I received this letter which was structured so beautifully that I was gobsmacked.

When I received a third letter from this reader, I mused to myself: “Damn it, this Junior Motsei guy is certainly a good writer.”

I dispatched a telegram to him to come and see me.

When he walked into the newsroom, I was simply disarmed by his aura.

He was handsome, confident with a smile that would make many a beauty swoon over him.

I engaged him in discussion and found that he was pleasurable to listen to.

He was a gifted communicator who strung his words together with ease.

I was surprised when he told me that he was a former boxer and wanted to write about boxing.

With his squeaky clean face, I imagined that he must have mustered the double-guard like the late Arthur “Fighting Prince” Mayisela.

He did not have a scar on his face.

Excitedly, I introduced him to Horatio Motjuwadi who was the sports editor.

Motsei’s journey as a writer was finally on the highway.

Within a short space of time, he had assuaged many a doubting Thomases who probably thought he was another average writer.

Long after I had moved on, Motsei stayed at Sowetan for years.

After 15 or so years doing what he was meant to do on earth besides salvaging people’s souls, I got to know that he had left Sowetan.

I made it my business to visit him at his house in Pimville, Soweto.

But he missed writing.

What kept him busy were the sermons that he held every Sunday morning.

Drawn to his uncanny manner of stringing his words together, I simply had to hear him preach.

He was simply dynamic.

It was as if he knew that destiny would salvage him from the wilderness.

One of my many protégés S’Busiso Mseleku, drafted him into the City Press sports section as a boxing writer.

Motsei obviously relished his job, pumping into the paper a balance that only he could maintain.

While we all have to respond when the call comes, it is a tragedy that a writer such as him was taken away from us, especially the youth that would have benefited from his mentoring.

For me, it was an honour and privilege to have known and worked with a man of God whose spirituality bubbled from his queer style of writing.

Our condolences go to his wife, his younger brother and children.

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