Lived for his family

Gugu Sibiya

Gugu Sibiya

The first time I laid my eyes on Liawa Phopho Sibiya I was in dire straits.

I had just had acupuncture after partying with friends on New Year's Eve when the man I thought was coloured, and was shocked when he spoke fluent Zulu, offered to help.

He was not fresh, just extremely polite and humble. Later, he asked for my address. I declined. With the coolest yet confident response, he assured me that he would find me.

I was young, confident, fresh out of matric and ready to conquer the world. The last thing I needed was a steady boyfriend.

But I had underestimated his determination. After relentless pursuit, my resistance melted and after three months of a whirlwind courtship in 1983, Liawa and I were married.

From the beginning I appreciated the fact that he was not a rich man in terms of rands and cents. He was extremely wealthy spiritually and emotionally. A generous, humble man who supported my career and endeavours. He retained his humility, calmness and patience, not to mention his sense of humour and quiet strength.

Liawa was a lover, a husband, a friend and the one person who indulged my every fancy, and that of our children. Life was about pleasing us and the extended family.

He also had a sense of adventure.

How do you account for an 18-year-old travelling from Swaziland to seek work in South Africa in the late 1970s?

He had dreams, too, of greatness. But on June 6, an accident shattered all our lives. For three weeks Sifiso, Mbali, Nqobile, Sonke and I watched him battle with the severe multiple injuries sustained in a collision, a stone's throw away from our home. God intervened on June 23.

To the world he was a great man, to the family he was our world and haven. We will miss his physical presence, but thank God that he lives in all of us.

Liawa, 50, will be buried on Sunday at the Greenhills Cemetery in Randfontein. The service starts at 7am at his 3447 Nokwe Street home in Mohlakeng, before proceeding to the Jewish Hall in Randfontein for the requiem service at 8am.

The cortege leaves for the local cemetery at 11am.