A per­sonal mem­ory of Colin Roop­narain, by In­grid Shevlin

Post - - News -

IT’S al­ways a tragedy to bury some­one young, as we im­me­di­ately think of a life still un­lived, po­ten­tial lost and achieve­ments un­achieved.

But even though Colin Roop­narain was only 34 when he died last Thurs­day, he was pretty much liv­ing life to the full.

He had achieved recog­ni­tion, fame, and a de­voted fol­low­ing, as a jour­nal­ist and colum­nist.

You only have to read the myr­iad trib­utes to him on Face­book to see how gen­er­ously he shared his tal­ent and ex­pe­ri­ence with younger jour­nal­ists, who cred­ited him with their suc­cesses.

One of them posted that Colin helped him achieve his present po­si­tion, while another thanked Colin for help­ing her break into en­ter­tain­ment jour­nal­ism.

It’s this gen­eros­ity of spirit, this warmth, in­nate sweet­ness, and re­fusal to take life too se­ri­ously that in­spired the depth of love, loy­alty and ad­mi­ra­tion he did in so many.

But more than any­thing, Colin had courage.

To take a stand when re­quired, to ex­press un­pop­u­lar opin­ions in his col­umns, and to walk his own path.

Colin as an ac­tivist for those marginalised by so­ci­ety, was some­thing he grew into.

Not bad for a boy from Dundee, who de­cided a small town life was not for him.

In­stead he opted to move to Dur­ban to study jour­nal­ism and ended up co-or­di­nat­ing the Sun­day Tribune’s life­style magazine SM.

His col­umn for SM earned him a fol­low­ing for its some­times con­tro­ver­sial view of so­ci­ety.

When he left the Tribune he spent over a year trav­el­ling in Asia where he taught English as a sec­ond language.

On his re­turn he free­lanced and wrote a wildly pop­u­lar col­umn for the POST.

He also con­tributed ar­ti­cles to both The Mer­cury and The Daily News.

Then there was the se­ries of plays he wrote that were staged in a small com­mu­nity the­atre.

While he was an all-round jour­nal­ist, it was arts jour­nal­ism that in­spired his pas­sion and put him in the spot­light and in touch with many celebri­ties.

Not that that ever turned his head. It was his job.

Per­haps this is a good time to re­veal how I knew Colin.

Over 10 years ago, when I was co-or­di­nat­ing SM, I in­ter­viewed Colin for a job as an arts jour­nal­ist for the team.

Ob­vi­ously I gave it to him. What a win that turned out to be – as a col­league, as a jour­nal­ist and as a friend.

We had a ball, didn’t we, Colin?

You, I, Re­becca Nat­tar and, later, Buhle Mbonambi, who is now, thanks in some de­gree to your men­tor­ing, do­ing the job you once did on SM.

We had our chal­lenges Colin. Changes to how we worked, dif­fi­cult col­leagues, new de­mands.

But never once did you lose your sense of what was right.

When the time came to make a stand, you did. With courage and con­vic­tion.

You re­signed and took the chance to spread your wings.

Travel broad­ened your mind and opened your eyes to a big­ger world and made you an even bet­ter jour­nal­ist.

Your un­ex­pected death af­ter a short ill­ness was a com­plete shock to all of us and we are still reel­ing from the sheer un­just­ness of a rich and young life cut short.

But, if I know any­thing about you Colin, it’s that you would want us to cel­e­brate your life, not mourn your death.

Colin, you were a son and a brother and we mourn with your fam­ily.

But you were also a col­league and a friend to many. And the great­est com­pli­ment we can pay you, is to never for­get you.

Yours was a life well lived. Be at peace.


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