Only the Good die Young - farewell Ohm Collins Chabane

2015-03-15 17:43

How do we measure a life? Is it measured in minutes? In cups of coffee? In sunsets and sunrises? Why is it that some people will dedicate their lives to creating a greater good for others while other people can be purely self serving?

Here was a young man who at age seventeen decided that he was going to work for the greater good. And he did. He lived in exile, trained with MK, he served time in prison during apartheid and continued to serve South Africa faithfully in our time where leadership is so often lacking. After the emancipation of South Africa he was elected minister and had remained a minister since. In 1998 he was responsible for establishing the Roads Agency. At the time of his death he was serving as Minister in the Presidency. He was known as a just and fair leader.

How does one measure the value of a life? Is that value purely based on what our nearest and dearest place on it? Is it purely out of need? Or is there a greater picture for the altruistic soul? What legacy does each of us leave? Is it business success? Raising thinking, responsible and kind children? Perhaps we do something for our community? But what if we don't do any of those things? Is ours a life wasted? 

I remember attending the funeral of a family member who had also been in politics, serving as mayor of Johannesburg in the 70's and also worked for the greater good serving alongside Helen Suzman. What astounded me at this funeral were the vast number of people in attendance, all of whom had a meaningful connection to the deceased. There were nurses who he had assisted in their career development, there were ballet dancers and theatre directors, businessmen and school teachers among the mourners. Each had a story to tell about him and how he had helped them profoundly. There were many, many people this individual had helped through his life however he never spoke about what he was doing at the time so the family were touched by these unfamiliar stories.

Somehow I think the case may be so too with the late Minister Chabane. He seems to have been a man who just got on with the job at hand. No bells. No whistles. No frills.

Through my work I have interviewed many South African politicians however, selfishly, I wish I had met Minister Chabane. Somehow I think an interview with the late Minister would have been special and I feel deprived that I never got the chance to share him with my radio audience.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and colleagues of the Late Minister Chabane and his two guards who also died in the fatal crash.

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