Time out for joyous Babes
EAST London has this week lost one of its brightest and happiest personalities when the ever-cheerful “flower child” known only as Babes died.
Babes died on Monday at the age of 70 from kidney failure.
Born in Newmarket, England on May 9 1946, and moving with her Yorkshireman father and South African-born mother to East London, South Africa in her infancy, she became a familiar sight as she walked the city’s streets spreading her message of love to everyone she met.
“Flowers represent peace,” were her famous words, indicating the bunch of flowers she carried, adding that the different colours were also symbolic of our rainbow nation.
“It doesn’t matter who or what you are, just remember to love unconditionally! When I give someone a flower I tell them that it is given with love, and then I tell them about God’s gift of love in sending his son Jesus to die for our sins. After that I continue to minister to them if they are interested in knowing more”.
Babes exuded tranquillity wherever she went. A deeply committed Christian, she used her flamboyant flower power image to promote peace and spread her message of love and redemption.
“I bring the word of God,” she would say. “My strategy is to distribute Christian literature, share my own testimony as to how I met Jesus, and encourage others to turn to the Lord.”
Babes grew up in the hippy era, saying later many people today yearn for those times, not necessarily for the free sex and drugs, but for its characteristic of love.
Many people said that it brightened their day just to see Babes coming down the street waving and smiling at everyone.
She would laugh when told that. “I can’t take the credit for bringing joy to people. That honour belongs to God.”
Babes was interviewed as part of a 16-episode documentary on colourful or prominent East London personalities, entitled People of East London. Her interview can be viewed on YouTube. Look up “Babes Flower Child of East London”, or follow the link https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=i9GYEVPZWEU
“But I don’t only represent my city,” she said. “I also represent my country and the whole world.”
She never realised one of her big dreams, “to visit Namaqualand before I die. I’d love to walk and sit amongst all those flowers”, she often said.
In addition to being a champion chess player, she was a gifted musician and singer with several albums out. Babes loved reading, but she had little time for fiction.
Now and then she allowed herself an ‘’off’’ day, when she had a leisurely breakfast, relaxed, read and wrote her memoirs.
“Babes’ time is Babes’ time,” she would say firmly.
FLOWER CHILD: One of East London’s most popular people, Babes, has died Picture: DON BRYCE