Celebration of a life well-lived

As news of the death of Welekazi Beauty Mahlalela's spread in and around her Tshiawelo home in Soweto this week, scores of youths and the not-so-young gathered and broke into struggle songs and dance. It was a celebration of a life well-lived.

As news of the death of Welekazi Beauty Mahlalela's spread in and around her Tshiawelo home in Soweto this week, scores of youths and the not-so-young gathered and broke into struggle songs and dance. It was a celebration of a life well-lived.

The youth who thronged to Mahlalela's home wwere a spontaneous celebratory salutation to a person who had extended her motherly care and the warmth of her home to more than her own children during the dark days of apartheid.

As a staunch member of the ANC all her life, she was destined to be an activist. Her home offered a sanctuary to student activists during the Soweto 1976 uprisings. While some fled the country to pursue an armed struggle against apartheid, those that remained always found in Mahlalela's home a place that doubled up as a dispute resolution and relief centre.

The community benefited immensely from her leadership. She helped in setting up small enterprises for the unemployed, culminating in her nomination in Sowetan's Community Builder for the Year Awards in the early 1990s. Mahlalela was born a twin in eNgcobo, in the former Transkei, in 1930. She came to Johannesburg in the mid-1950s to take up a teaching post. This is where she met and married her late husband, Dr Nghunghunyani Mahlalela.

They had six children.

She became ill with respiratory and cardiac problems early last year but her condition deteriorated towards the end of the year. She was admitted to Chris Hani- Baragwanath Hospital on February 16. She died the next day.

Her service at St Hilda's Anglican Church in Senaoane, Soweto, tomorrow, starts at 8am. She will be buried at Lenasia Cemetery.

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