never a dull moment

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

There were no dull moments when Nicholas Modise was around. The only time he was quiet was when he was about to say something.

Modise worked for Sowetan as our sports sub-editor in a department notorious for giving nicknames to heroes and zeroes alike.

One nickname we gave him was the Short One, because of his size. Some also referred to Modise as Mzambiya, Dumpy, Msawawa, Whatever, Nip, It's My Money, Honey Bunch, Bambino, Baby and The Only Black Sub, none of which ever seemed to bother him.

He was also known as Amiel Steven Sebolao, especially in Botswana where he made a name for himself as one of their most popular journalists.

Modise had answers for any question and was forthright when he felt something was amiss. The guy could really speak his mind.

I met Bra Nick when he joined Sowetan in April 1996 as a general sub-editor, three months after I had joined the company. Fresh from Botswana he would tell everybody that he was not here to feed people in Johannesburg.

"Ha ke tlo jewa ke Majohanne," he would say.

That used to be Modise's trademark response when staffers from Johannesburg and surrounding areas asked him for money or cigarettes. He was not selfish but he'd say, "hey, I'm not your father" if you kept going to him for help.

Despite his pencil-slim figure, Modise had a love affair with food. He always had a stash on his desk.

The late Elliot Makhaya, Sowetan'sformer entertainment editor, once said Nick must have had a python with babies in his stomach, that's why he ate so much. Nick was the first to have a good laugh.

On average, Modise spent R50 a day on food and soft drinks but never finished them. He always gave them to the cleaners and security staff.

His day began with Mageu and ended with a cold beer. When he was really in the mood, Modise would go for a hot one - whisky or brandy.

One of his masterpieces was turning the Sowetan premises into a gymnasium where he would jog up and down the parking area just before going home - and then have a cold beer.

Sowetan will never be the same without Bra Nick. Our condolences to his family.