A personal memory of Colin Roopnarain, by Ingrid Shevlin
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.