We salute Prof Mayosi, a humble scholarly cardiologist

Bongani Mayosi.
Bongani Mayosi.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

We have been shocked by the sad news of the sudden departure of Prof Bongani Mayosi.

Mayosi was a highly revered chief specialist, a brilliant academic, a researcher and a world renowned cardiologist. He was respected both as a clinician and as a competent administrator - as the head of department of cardiology at Groote Schuur Hospital and the dean in the faculty of health sciences, which incorporates medicine in the University of Cape Town.

How does one bid farewell to such an illustrious life cut too short? How does anyone bid farewell, and accept the loss of a brilliant mind, ranking among the best that South Africa, and our continent, can offer the world of modern medicine?

No tributes will suffice to commemorate a doctor who dedicated his entire life as a committed servant of our people. He was one of the rare breed of African physicians to have scaled the climax of this complex and highly technical specialist field of cardiology.

Mayosi was rightfully honoured with the highest award of our land, the Order of Mapungubwe in silver for his contribution to scientific advancement, and for his patriotism and selfless service to the nation and the country.

He could have been recruited to a lucrative job, as a full-time top specialist earning millions of rand in private health care institutions in this country. Any international institution of his speciality would have been honoured had Mayosi applied to be part of their specialist staff establishment. However, Mayosi elected to serve the poor and ordinary underprivileged citizens who depend on the public healthcare service for their needs. He knew our people invested in all the knowledge he possessed and also deserved the best.

Mayosi dedicated his talent, skills and his whole life to save the lives of others and trained many more in the art of healing as a specialist and lecturer in internal medicine and cardiology. He represented the best in black excellence. He was the epitome of outstanding professionalism - world-class medical care that reflects the high standard in medical care the world has come to accept from South African health workers.

His successful career has been abruptly halted in a manner that has been acute and traumatic to family, friends, protégés students and colleagues, all of whom are left wondering why they have been singled out to be recipient of such painful calamity.

There is no underplaying the obvious fact that Mayosi was an inspiration to South African youth, especially those training in the medical sectors.

Many of us who qualified in medicine ahead of, or together with, and after him, held him in high regard, as a symbol of pride and encouragement for more black students to aspire to the greater heights of the medical profession. Mayosi was a role model and a hero of a democratic South Africa. He represented the actualisation of the dreams and aspirations of the previously oppressed, and the celebration of our newly found freedom.

Mayosi possessed a rare combination of a brilliant mind, yet remained very friendly, warm and sociable.

As former colleagues and alumni from the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, we bow our heads as we salute one who rose from our humble ranks to conquer the heights that had seemed impossible.

To his wife Nonhlanhla, the children and the family and relatives, we convey our deepest and heartfelt condolences.

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