Durban – Durban businessman and pioneer of black business "Bra" Don "Ndonga" Mkhwanazi was on Thursday described as a loving father, hero and a humble soul. "We are here today to celebrate a pioneer par excellence," said Group CEO of Transnet Siyabonga Gama on Thursday afternoon.Gama was speaking at the memorial service of the late Mkhwanazi at the Durban City Hall.Mkhwanazi, who was a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, died last Friday from a heart attack. According to a Times report, Mkhwanazi, who was married to businesswoman Zodwa Msimang, was at a friend's home attending a party that night. Gama said when he received the news of Mkhwanazi's death last Saturday morning he was shattered."When I received the news last Saturday morning I was shocked, devastated and at a loss for words because I was not expecting him to leave us so soon."Early supporter of BEEGama said he had spoken to Mkhwanazi recently when he invited him to attend his son's wedding in June but Gama told Mkhwanazi that he would not be able to attend. Gama said Mkhwanazi had always been there for him, in good and bad times."He had travelled to Johannesburg when my daughter got married and when we buried my father's last surviving siblings. For as long as I have known him, he shared my families pleasure and sorrow. "We have all lost, in his death. I had dinner with Ndonga [Mkhwanazi] last month and he had hinted he wanted me to contribute to a book that he wanted to be commissioned in September."He described Mkhwanazi as a father and mentor and a humble soul. Mkhwanazi ran the Black Management Forum in the 1980 and was also the first prominent person to promote black economic empowerment. Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe was among those who attended the memorial service.