Com­mu­nity hero’s legacy lives on

Grocott's Mail - - PEOPLE -

A cor­ner­stone of the Gra­ham­stown Hindu com­mu­nity.Dal­pat Mad­hoo passed away peace­fully on Thurs­day 24 Au­gust 2017 at the age of 88. As a com­mu­nity leader, his legacy lives on, 20 years since he left the town to live with daugh­ter Bharti in Mil­dura Aus­tralia. His wife Ga­jri lived with him un­til her death three years ago. He leaves his chil­dren, Paresh, Bharti and Jayesh and their fam­i­lies. Dur­ing a stress­ful pe­riod of our his­tory, the Gra­ham­stown In­dian com­mu­nity came to be a close-knit fam­ily, re­gard­less of re­li­gious be­liefs and cul­tural dif­fer­ences, be­cause of the bonds Dal­pat cre­ated.

He took it upon him­self to ed­u­cate the com­mu­nity’s chil­dren in mat­ters of cul­ture, her­itage and tra­di­tion; but also shared his quest for spir­i­tual en­light­en­ment with seek­ers of the “truth”, ar­rang­ing dis­courses and lec­tures by teach­ers from the Ra­makr­ishna So­ci­ety, the Di­vine Life So­ci­ety, Ananda Marg, Sufi teach­ers, and a plethora of Holy Men, artists, po­ets and philoso­phers.

“Mr Mad­hoo made us re­alise one did not need to go to uni­ver­sity to learn hu­man val­ues or sur­vival,” said Gra­ham­stown busi­ness­man Harry Rama, one of the many in­flu­enced and helped by him.

Dal­pat was an ac­tivist for jus­tice and equal­ity. How­ever, when the Queen Street tem­ple was de­mol­ished un­der the Group Ar­eas Act, it was a blow to the Hindu com­mu­nity, al­ready de­mor­alised by apartheid.

“When our com­mu­nity could not gather enough re­sis­tance as a group to over­come our re­li­gious be­reave­ment, we had never seen him so down and hurt. But he made us rise once again. We lived to pray another day,” Rama said.

Dal­pat Mad­hoo con­ducted prayers for all oc­ca­sions in the Hindu com­mu­nity and was al­ways will­ing to close his own shop to at­tend to fu­neral ar­range­ments.

He would en­thral chil­dren with an­cient sto­ries of In­dian kings, princes, demi-gods and he­roes. He adored chil­dren and was a favourite sur­ro­gate un­cle, fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, dis­pens­ing co­pi­ous "Penny Nes­tle” choco­lates and con­fec­tionery to any who crossed his path. Dal­pat wel­comed strangers with the hos­pi­tal­ity of his home and his beloved Ga­jri’s kitchen.

He adopted many home­sick Rhodes stu­dents, nur­tur­ing them in a fam­ily environment. This con­tin­ued with his life in Aus­tralia. His home was a “Grand Cen­tral Sta­tion” for all who were away from the com­forts of their cul­ture, fam­ily and loved ones.

Born in South Union Street, of North End, Port El­iz­a­beth, on 13 Novem­ber 1929; Dal­pat Nathoo Mad­hoo grew up, trea­sured as a val­ued mem­ber of a large fam­ily. He was one of four boys and a girl. Times were dif­fi­cult and he started life in his fa­ther’s shoe re­pair store as­sist­ing af­ter school and on week­ends.

En­ter­ing adult­hood, he left port El­iz­a­beth to serve as a printer’s ap­pren­tice in East Lon­don where he was wel­comed into the home of his men­tor and teacher, Lal­loo Hari, the founder of L. HARRY & Sons, a well-known com­mer­cial printer in East Lon­don.

This was a turn­ing point in his life as he de­vel­oped a pas­sion for the tech­ni­cal­ity and me­chan­ics of the lithog­ra­phy print­ing process. More im­por­tantly, he be­gan to un­der­stand he her­itage and cul­ture of the Gu­jarati peo­ple.

Af­ter serv­ing his ap­pren­tice­ship, he moved to Gra­ham­stown in 1952 and opened Good­will’s on 19 High Street. The Daya Mo­rar fam­ily pro­vided him with a place to stay and his ini­tial stock in trade.

By ar­range­ment, his life partner en­tered his life when they were mar­ried in 1953. As a cou­ple, they shared a com­mon drive to suc­ceed with­out fam­ily aid and with a sense of in­de­pen­dence.

He knew the hard­ship of start­ing a new life and pro­vid­ing for a young fam­ily and what lit­tle he gained fi­nan­cially, he con­trib­uted to peo­ple strug­gling with so­cial and emo­tional prob­lems, ill­ness and poverty. Dal­pat’s gen­eros­ity was a mat­ter of self-pride and was not to be spo­ken off in fear of feed­ing a ego.

He started as a green­gro­cer, then pro­gressed to gifts and fancy goods, even­tu­ally evolv­ing to be­ing a jeweller. But he al­ways car­ried a small compo- nent of his legacy into the next phase. He couldn’t re­sist sell­ing paint to the dis­ad­van­taged at a re­duced cost, and held on to sup­ply­ing spices and masala in his gift store. Good­will’s be­came the largest Ster­ling Sil­ver re­tailer in South­ern Africa. The store was a gold­mine of dis­cov­ery, a Pan­dora’s box, every­thing with a story or anec­dote (some­times be­liev­able, and other times not).

His charm, charisma and sharp in­tel­lect drew many to him and he took great in­ter­est in Gra­ham­stown's aca­demics. He fully un­der­stood the value of ed­u­ca­tion and gave packs of books and pen­cils to the needy. At the other end of the scale, he spon­sored a nephew from Port El­iz­a­beth to study Medicine. Dr Baldev Mad­hoo has re­cently re­tired.

Dal­pat or­gan­ised many gath­er­ings to bond young and old, some in the ex­clu­sive whitesonly Gra­ham­stown City Hall.

The call of fam­ily re­sulted in mov­ing to Aus­tralia in 1987, an end to Good­will’s Gift Shop.

Dal­pat re­tired in 2002 cel­e­brat­ing his 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary to his beloved Ga­jri. He ded­i­cated his time to tend­ing to her fail­ing health.

Af­ter the loss of his wife, his health be­gan to fail him and was cared for by Chaf­fey Age Care fa­cil­ity in Mer­bein, on the out­skirts of Mil­dura, Vic­to­ria, Aus­tralia.

A me­mo­rial se­vice was held at the Mandir in Gra­ham­stown on Sun­day when many of his favourite ba­jans (hymms) were sung in his re­mem­brance.

• Jayesh Mad­hoo, Dal­pat’s youngest son and Harry Rama of the Gra­ham­stown Seva Sa­maj con­trib­uted to this trib­ute.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.