Fam­ily man who was all about en­gage­ment

CityPress - - Voices -

The news of his pass­ing may have es­caped many who were touched by his af­fec­tion­ate smile. But the fu­neral ser­vice, held in his hon­our at Bryanston Methodist Church in Jo­han­nes­burg on Thurs­day, was a trib­ute to his many and var­ied good deeds. Those present and ab­sent will at­test to these with un­fail­ing con­sis­tency.

The savvy, Soweto-born Wind­sor Shuenyane, af­fec­tion­ately known as “Bra Wind­sor”, would have turned 82 years old this year.

Hail­ing from Or­lando East in Soweto, he met his soul mate, Es­line “Essie” Dayel, at Or­lando High School. From there be­gan a ro­mance that blos­somed into a mar­riage last­ing 54 years. The cou­ple had four sons: Tumi, Tshepo, Khumo and Wanda.

Shuenyane trained as a so­cial worker and his en­tire ca­reer was marked by the sup­port and up­lift­ment he ex­tended to oth­ers as he rose. He ini­tially worked at care cen­tres such as the School for the Blind and the SA Na­tional Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis As­so­ci­a­tion.

His life­long re­sponse to the needy is best de­scribed by life coach, au­thor and mo­ti­va­tional speaker Mike Muen­dane as “a much-needed lead­er­ship ca­pa­bil­ity that pro­pels peo­ple who care to take front­line re­spon­si­bil­ity to ef­fect change for the bet­ter out of vo­li­tion rather than un­der duress”.

The turn­ing point of Shuenyane’s ca­reer came when he was head­hunted by SA Brew­eries (SAB) in the early 1980s. This paved the way for him to bring about ground­break­ing cor­po­rate so­cial in­vest­ment ini­tia­tives to the cor­po­rate world.

In do­ing so, he rede­fined the role of busi­ness by ex­tend­ing it to in­clude com­mu­nity up­lift­ment. One could say he pi­o­neered the no­tion of so­cial en­trepreneur­ship.

With­out Bra Wind­sor’s thought lead­er­ship, would there have been plat­forms and op­por­tu­ni­ties for shin­ing stars such as Telkom board chair Jabu Mabuza or the doyen of theatre, John Kani?

Shuenyane was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind many causes that were born and flour­ished at the SAB World of Beer Cen­te­nary Cen­tre, where he worked, which came to shape South Africa’s con­tem­po­rary ro­bust in­tel­lec­tual en­gage­ment.

Shuenyane used his ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion to make the SAB World of Beer the peo­ple’s cen­tre and en­able crit­i­cal de­bates to take place be­tween artists, aca­demics, politi­cians and busi­ness lead­ers, par­tic­u­larly while the na­tion was in tran­si­tion. He fa­cil­i­tated mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and other cor­po­rate and com­mu­nity stake­hold­ers. Long be­fore the adop­tion of our cur­rent na­tional an­them, those close to Bra Wind­sor were fa­mil­iar with his predilec­tion for jazz great Si­bongile Khu­malo’s 2005 num­ber, Plea for Africa, with back­ing vo­cals by Imilonji Kantu Cho­ral So­ci­ety and spon­ta­neous melo­di­ous re­join­ders by the con­gre­ga­tion. Pay­ing trib­ute to him at the fu­neral was writer and aca­demic Moteane Me­lamu, who re­ferred to Shuenyane as a man “born un­der a danc­ing star, a child of joy who ex­uded what the French call joie de vivre, the joy of life”.

The af­fec­tion­ate speeches by his sons and grand­daugh­ters at­tested to Shuenyane’s par­ent­ing skills. Re­fer­ring to his mar­riage to Essie, the part­ing re­marks by pro­gramme di­rec­tor Nolitha Vukuza were just as sem­i­nal: “You made mar­riage sexy. You gave mar­riage a pic­ture of suc­cess. And you made mar­riage a suc­cess­ful in­sti­tu­tion built to last.”

The hugs given by mourn­ers to Essie served as as­sur­ances that “your pain is ours too”.

The un­for­get­table Bra Wind­sor may be gone, but his deeds will live on. Essie can take com­fort in the mem­o­ries of a bliss­fully warm and happy mar­riage. As poet and au­thor Don Mat­tera con­cluded: “Bra Wind­sor’s widow pos­sesses and ex­udes a serene aura of wom­an­hood, as do her grand­daugh­ters and daugh­ters-in-law.”

– Oupa Ng­wenya


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