Gifted Petersen was many things in life

Emo Adams

Emo Adams

"My Broetjie", "My Bra": that is what Taliep Petersen used to call me. I met him when I was at the tender age of nine, when I took over from my brother, Luqmaan Adams, as Broetjie in District Six - the Musical, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Thanks to Petersen and David Kramer for taking me under their wing and giving me a platform from which to showcase my talent nationally and internationally, covering the West End, Germany, Austria and Las Vegas. I have done 10 years with Petersen and Kramer.

District Six - the Musical, Kat and the Kings, and Goema, currently in production in London, are the shows in which I have performed prominent roles.

Petersen was a man whose music was bigger than the musicals themselves, so big that it shot off stage and straight onto television with his Afrikaans musical sitcom hit, Alie Barber on Kyknet.

Walking the streets of our communities these days, all you hear is chants of Petersen's songs. Lonely Girl is the most popular, sung by every local boy-band, or by those trying to impress. It's clear to me that his music will live on.

Petersen was many things in life. He was a father, a friend, a singer, a composer, a musical director, a leader and a legend, but he found the time to do justice to all with grace and humility. Most importantly, he was an exceptional Muslim.

On meeting you for the first time, he greeted you like you had been friends forever.

How do you honour someone who should still be here?

How do you say goodbye to someone you performed with the day before he was murdered?

How does a Sunday lunch turn out to be a Sunday funeral?

In this case, that is exactly what happened.

It's Friday night, December 15, and I'm backstage with Cape Town's theatrical greats, such as Nur Abrahams, Allistair Izobell and Petersen. We are all laughing, talking about characters in our community, about Goema's opening in London.

Soon after, we were rehearsing with Taliep's son, Ashur - whose life-long dream was to share the stage with his dad - not knowing that we would all be witness to Petersen's very last performance.

Those who were there say it was the perfect ending.

Before leaving the show, Taliep asked me and Abrahams to come around on Sunday for lunch and to talk about a new show he had in mind. That was the last time we saw the legend.

He met me as "Broetjie". He left me as a "Bra".

lAdams is a Cape Town actor.