So Arabi Mocheke is gone, having been buried on Saturday in Musina, his hometown. This is probably what many of his friends, colleagues and family, must be asking with disbelief right now.
Poetry has been written, speeches have been made and newspaper columns have been written by those who shared a life with Mocheke, variously described in glowing terms by the living.
Several speakers and writers have tried to outdo each other in the past week, in terms of choosing the right adjectives in order to capture Mocheke, the man, the proud African, the romantic, the spiritual person, the vegetarian, the visionary and sometimes the rebellious and naughty African. The essence of all this commentary was basically to paint a picture of a good man. Period.
However, the inevitability of life is that it is mortal, and at some stage has to end. However, what is even more important, something the likes of Mocheke have taught us, is to mind the legacy we leave behind when we pass on. In Tsonga they say Minthirho ya vula vula (your legacy speaks for itself), and so does Mocheke's.
This is what those of us left behind should focus on. What is it that we learnt from our dear friend? In other words, what is it that he had that we are lacking since we still have time to catch up with Mocheke and continue where he has left?
Who is going to carry the torch from there? These are the questions I had to deal with in my mind as I listened to different speakers grapple with the phenomenal individual that Mocheke was, and read prose written in the most creative and catchy way one can imagine, this past week. Who does not know the role that Mocheke played in extricating the father of
malombo music Phillip Tabane from a certain destiny, in Mamelodi, and put him on the pedestal once more, organising shows for him, and insisting that he be paid a good fee that this genius deserves?
Who does not know that Mocheke had a hand in making sure that the father of Malombo music is honoured with a doctorate in music by the University of Venda?
Today, who does not know that Mocheke gave the people of Soweto and far a festival, the Soweto Arts Festival, started with individual determination seven years ago? And now it is a solid brand embraced by many. And who does not know that Mocheke has given the people of Limpopo, his home province, their own festival, which has been running for two years now.
The point is more than all the platitudes paid to him. What would please Mocheke is to see the living take the two projects he has left behind to another level. They should not be allowed to die, because if this happens it will be like dying twice for Mocheke. But for now, to use his ancestors' language, his father was a Malawian immigrant and his mother a local woman, Gonani bwino Achimweni.Peace, brother.