Tower to tower: Tribute to Joe Maila
Joe had a big heart and was generous to a fault, writes Molebatsi Masedi
JOE Maila was a rare person in post-apartheid South Africa, he was a Black Consciousness island in the vast and all consuming charterist sea. I placed him in the same WhatsApp Group with Advocate Mojanku Gumbi and Dr Mosibudi Mangena, both who served the democratic government with loyalty and diligence.
Gumbi was the trusted legal advisor in the Presidency during the tenure of Thabo Mbeki. Dr Mangena served variously as Deputy Minister of Higher Education and as Minister of Science and Technology.
Their Black Consciousness ideological orientation notwithstanding, they were trusted to deliver the best in their areas of responsibility. That they served the democratic government eluded many in the ANC and AZAPO their political home, it was unfathomable.
Maila followed in their footsteps in the road less travelled. He was good and loyal as his peers Gumbi and Mangena. He cut his government communication teeth at the Department of Labour regional office in Polokwane where he acquitted himself quite well. His next port of call was the Department of Safely, Security and Liaison where he was the Media Liaison Officer in the Office of the MEC. Then it was the Department of Health and Social Development.
When his principal was deployed to the National Assembly he didn’t hang in limbo for long. He reached the pinnacle of his career progression when he joined the National Department of Health as the spokesperson to Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Those who know Dr Motsoaledi will be aware that he is in his own right, a communicator par excellence. For a person with such a gift of the garb, a spokesman would be rendered surplus to requirement. Not Maila, he not only survived but triumphed too. He became as famous as his famous Minister. Within a short time he mastered the complex and exhaustive language of national health. His death is a tragic loss to the nation.
Our paths converged because of Black Consciousness, his was current and mine lapsed. As fate would have it, I replaced him at the Department of Safety when they moved to the Department of Health. Generous to a fault, he bequeathed me his media contacts and strategies to ease my entry into the Department.
When I was recovering from a heart valve replacement operation in Pretoria in 2014, Joe made time to call on me. He brought me a current issue of Men’s Health to while away time. We spent time talking about our Black Consciousness to which he remained loyal to the end. Joe had a big heart, generous to a fault. He was also a deeply spiritual person, God was the axle on which his world revolved. His mortal journey is ended, leaving a huge footprint to guide us in his absence. He will be sorely missed by all whose lives he touched.
Tower to Tower. This is the Joe Maila I Know. Rest in Power my Tower.
The Government Communication and Information Service (GCIS) and the Ministry of Health will today, Thursday October 26, hold a joint memorial service in honour of the Joe Maila who passed away last Thursday, 19 October.
The memorial service will be attended by the media, various stakeholders from the private sector and government communicators from three spheres of government. The members of the media and government communicators are expected to share memories and celebrate the life of Maila.
The memorial service will take place at 1035 Tshedimosetso House, Corner Francis Baard and Festival Street, Hatfield in Pretoria. It will start at 10am. The Maila family also held a memorial service in Polokwane yesterday, Wednesday October 25, at Jack Botes Hall in Polokwane.
In a statement, the family said: “The family would once again wish to extend its appreciation and sincere gratitude for the support it has received and continue to receive from Buti Joe’s friends, colleagues in government, the media and members of the public.”