Obituary: Carol sebastian

2013-10-16 00:00

A SEGMENT of Edendale’s history came to light with the death this month of Carol Sebastian, who was affectionately known to residents in the area as “M’Christiana”.

Sebastian was a businessman who lived and ran a general dealer shop in Georgetown until 1981. His family was among the last of the Indian families to move out of the area because of the enforcement of the Group Areas Act.

Sebastian (82) died after a short illness and his funeral was held last week at the Raisethorpe Catholic Church.

When he moved out of Edendale, a large farewell party was held in his honour. The function was reported in The Witness . The article said the Sebastians were very popular in Edendale while they operated their general dealer business for more than 25 years. It added that because of his Christian habits, the local community gave Sebastian the nickname of “M’Christiana”.

According to the report, Mr P.A.C. Mseleku, a church member, said Sebastian “was loved and honoured” by most of his customers and this boosted his business. “He treated all who came his way as human beings, thus presenting a model lesson in race relations,” Mseleku said.

Induna in the area Johannes Simelane delivered a speech, honouring the family and “presented M’Christiana with a walking stick and meat tray, while another speaker, Mrs E.M. Cele, presented him with a clock and a carving of clasped hands in a praying gesture”, the report said.

Sebastian’s son, John, said that when his father went to church for the first time at St Albert’s Mission in Esigodini, the priest approached him and inquired if he was a Christian. “The parishioners were of the opinion that all Indian businessmen were non-Christians. Upon establishing that my father was indeed a man of their own faith, they called him M’Christiana and referred to the store as ‘Istolo Kwa Christiaan’.”

The family recalled that his friends and customers included such stalwarts of the community as the late Professor Sibusiso Nyembezi, Selby Msimang and Bishop Dominic Khumalo.

Sebastian’s active commitment to the Catholic Church started at St Albert’s Mission. He and his wife, Sowcilla (affectionately known as Monica), received a papal blessing on their 53rd wedding anniversary. They would have been married for 56 years on October 27.

John said his father was the eldest of four children. He attended Sutherlands Primary School, but had to leave school at an early age to support his siblings when he lost both his parents. His first job was with the well-known Ishwar Bhoola family of Edendale, who became his first extended family.

It was because of the Bhoola family that Sebastian acquired his business skills and in December 1963 he established his own business known as the Edendale Cash Store, which he was forced to leave in 1981.

Sebastian leaves wife Monica, four sons, a daughter and six grandchildren.

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