Dear Dumisane, you gave us a voice

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The late Dumisane Lubisi. Picture: Tebogo Letsie
The late Dumisane Lubisi. Picture: Tebogo Letsie


Dear Dumisane,

I have decided to write my tribute in a form of a letter to you. This I am doing with a strong belief as an African, even though someone may have transcended from this physical realm through death, their spirit remains with us.

So I wish to address you as a spirit still among us, in an attempt to soften the blow and pain that your unexpected departure has had on those you lived and worked with and those of us who had the privilege to interact with you, albeit only in writing, which you so masterfully and professionally managed as an executive editor of City Press.

Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian author and novelist, reminds us: “Life is short. There is no time to leave important words unsaid.”

Dumisane, I would like to thank you, on behalf of the many South Africans who contributed to your publication’s Voices section. You afforded ordinary citizens like myself a platform to vent, to share and express our opinions, frustrations and views, especially about the socio, political and economic state of our nation. You gave us a voice in Voices and allowed us to raise important issues. For that, we thank you.

My first opinion piece you published on April 15 2019, an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa – A squatter camp called Ramaphosa.

READ: Tributes from friends and colleagues of Dumisane Lubisi

Upon receiving it, you did not only treat it as an opinion piece, but you responded by expressing empathy and extended condolences to the bereaved family whose plight I had shared.

As I read that email again this week, where you said you wished the family would bury the deceased well, I was deeply touched, considering that this time it is your family that was preparing to bury you. For the kindness and humanity you showed me from my first interaction with you, I thank you.

As an editor, I am grateful for how you interacted with my work specifically, permitting the raw emotions from which I was writing, and allowing the words to come out as plain, direct, simple and candid as intended.

You let the writers in your section speak their truth unimpeded, without imposing any journalistic editorial restrictions or watering down their opinions. You did your best, in the limited time you had on this earth, to let the important words that needed to be said, to be recorded in print, in the annals of history. For the role you played, Dumisane, we thank you.

You tolerated our limitations, those of us who are not trained journalists and experienced writers. You exercised patience in a way that probably some, if not most editors, would never do. Now that you are gone, it makes sense how you would allow the submission of articles as late as Thursday or Friday. And when you agreed with the theme of the opinion piece, you would edit and run it on the Sunday, always reverting with: “I will find space for it.”

I, for one, took chances and sent you articles that were too long. Sometimes I felt sorry thinking about the pressure we might have put you under. With your actions, you boosted our confidence and interest to write more. We shall miss being spoilt like that, but most of all, your guidance, your big heart and your support.

Again, we say thank you for the dedication you had for your work and your professionalism.

When Covid-19 hit our shores early this year, we were all faced with the reality of coming to terms with our inevitable mortality as we had to battle against an unknown, invisible coronavirus pandemic.

Our country continues to battle yet another pandemic – that of corruption and looting of the country’s resources – in government, the private sector and all sectors of society.

You leave us at a time when there’s ongoing commissions of inquiry and the arrests of some accused of corruption. Only time will tell if all this will make any dent in the cancer that has bedevilled our nation.

READ: Dumisane Lubisi: Father, friend, journalist, gatekeeper

In the last communication I had with you on September 28, in which you lamented not receiving my emails on time since they had landed in your spam inbox, you requested that I update the piece I had sent on the three-month salary penalty the president had imposed on Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Little did I know that that would be the last message and article you would publish from me. It is not surprising though that you insisted on publishing it in the September 30 edition of the newsletter because you had also written about the same Zimbabwe trip by the minister and the ANC delegation.

Your article on October 4 When greed overrules our leaders’ morals, five days before your passing, will remain etched in our minds and hearts. Hopefully, this will also send a chilling message to the governing party and the powers that be.

You wrote: “Mapisa-Nqakula and her ANC comrades’ use of state resources for party purposes shows just how much little regard those in leadership have for the people. But the people are not stupid; this will come back to bite the ANC – big time.”

Rest well Dumi, you ran your race – both in your work professionally and physically as a runner. Condolences to your children, your beloved boys, your parents and the whole City Press family.

As you always signed off your mails – “Best!!”

Molatoli is a social justice activist and director at Bamboo Seeds Communications


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