Malume had a big heart

Kagiso Mphela-Manale

Kagiso Mphela-Manale

My uncle Ramabele Jacob Langa would have turned 59 next month. We were planning to throw him the mother of all parties, just to thank him for raising all of us.

But instead this weekend, all of us will gather in Mapela village, in the Mokopane District, to bid Malume Jacob farewell.

Last Thursday, he succumbed to his long battle with diabetes. He had been in hospital since Sunday.

My uncle was a good man, with a big heart. His sense of humour was unbelievable. I, like most of my cousins and his children, adored him. When we were growing up he was strict but loving and now as adults we appreciate him even more.

Though he had been ill for a while, he insisted that my cousin's wedding in Danisani village in Mapela should go ahead on June 30. It's as if he wanted to say goodbye because every family member was there.

Langa was a well-known businessman and entrepreneur in Mapela. In 1982, after working for several companies, he returned home to open a huge supermarket that was the pride of the whole village.

I was born the same year and I grew up in his home with his nine children. It was a warm and loving environment. When I was six my mother and I left, but every school holiday I went back home.

It's a pity that my uncle is no more. I had promised him that if I got a good job I would thank him properly for raising us. I wanted to spoil him, to return the huge favour.

One of his sons is so heartbroken he has not stopped crying since Thursday, because he misses him so badly already. He was a friend and confidante to all of us.

Born on August 28, Langa died on July 5.

A hard worker with a big heart, he was a devoted Zion Christian Church member and lay priest in Mapela.

His wicked sense of humour and work ethic earned him the nickname "Farmer".

He is survived by his wife, nine children, grandchildren and siblings.

He will be buried tomorrow in Mapela. The service starts at 7am at Parakisi.