Messages from across the UCT community, the medical community, the country, the continent and the world have been pouring in to commemorate and celebrate the life of Professor Bongani Mayosi, the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, who passed away on 27 July.
The messages that follow have been published as received. This page will be updated regularly as more messages come through.
I am saddened by your passing and I just wish you knew how much we respected and appreciated you.
Dear Mayosi family,
There are no words for a time like this. Just know that we are all thinking of you and sending you love and strength.
With warmest regards,
It is with a sense of profound sadness that we learn of the passing of Professor Bongani Mayosi.
From its inception, Professor Mayosi was an ardent supporter of the Gastroenterology Foundation of South Africa and a loyal and committed mentor in all our efforts.
His loss leaves a deep void at UCT and Groote Schuur Hospital and indeed in our nation.
Our heartfelt condolences to his family.
Chris Kassianides and Trustees
Gastroenterology Foundation of Sub Saharan Africa
Buthi Bongani you have been an inspiration in my life since 2009 when I was a first year BSc student at UCT. Your achievements is what’s driving me to be the best in my field, being a discoverer of a gene that causes heart failures made me realize that one day I too may be part of a team that would eventually make Time Travel possible.
Long Live The Spirit of Buthi Prof Bongani Mayosi Long Live
Rest in POWER Qabane
BSc(Eng) Electrical & Computer Engineering UCT (2009-2013)
MSc Computer Science Wits (2017-ongoing)
Life Healthcare pays tribute to the late Professor Bongani Mayosi
Prof’s research of rheumatic heart disease in school children
Johannesburg, South Africa, 30 July 2018: Life Healthcare, one of South Africa’s largest private healthcare groups, is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Professor Bongani Mayosi, Dean of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town (UCT), who was also a founding trustee of the Life Foundation from 2007 to 2014.
Prof Mayosi partnered with the Life Foundation on the ‘Heart Health for Kids’ Mobile Clinic Project implementing rheumatic heart disease screenings in 23 disadvantaged schools in Langa and Bonteheuwel, Cape Town between 2007 and 2012. The project secured the link between poverty and the incidents of rheumatic heart disease in children.
The Professor’s passion and dedication to the project extended to the establishment of the first patient register of rheumatic heart disease from other countries in Africa, the Middle East and India. This triggered an ambitious global movement to register all cases of rheumatic heart disease in the world through the Global Rheumatic Heart Disease Register or REMEDY study, and continues to be led by UCT.
A number of academic and research articles have been published as a result of the ‘Heart Health for Kids’ Mobile Clinic Project.
“Prof Mayosi’s work and research in improving public health in South Africa has and will continue to have a great impact in our communities. We are thankful for the role he played as a founding trustee of the Life Foundation and the outcomes achieved through the ‘Heart Health for Kids’ Mobile Clinic Project.
“His passing is a huge loss to the medical profession and South Africa at large. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Mayosi family and trust they find strength and courage at this difficult time,” said Dr Shrey Viranna, Group CEO for the Life Healthcare Group.
This is a huge shock for all of us who worked so closely with Bongani. The past few days have been filled with so many memories, together with tears and laughs as we comforted one another.
Of course, we try to hold onto every word, smile, wisdom titbit, thought that flashes each passing moment. The personal experiences and encounters are beyond the finite limitation of words. I feel privileged to have known him so closely, even guilty in fact, that I had had the lion’s share at times, especially during his supervising of our theses and research. The profound impact on my life and career is staggering. In many ways - without doubt, Bongani shaped and made me.
So loss? Yes. But my belief in God tempers that loss with the absolute assurance that he had accomplished the blueprint for his time on Earth. Thus, I dig deep to accept that the time had come for this faithful servant. For our part, we need to carry his legacy as another who cares deeply for this world.
Mark Engel, colleague and co-researcher
Mayosi Research Group (Rheumatic Heart Disease Programme)
This is my tribute for my fellow Dean and senior colleague.
The flight of a star (for Bongani Mayosi)
In the dark of the night, alone
Life comes alive, and regrets
Thrive in a man’s mind, leaving
Only thoughts of endings, and
No beginnings, no loving, no life
The people, they don’t get it, they
Look at Nelson Mandela, and say
That everyone must be, everyone
Must live the life, exemplified
By the actions, of heroes
Mountains come alive, in
The deep darkness of night, and
Molehills and trees, and people
Merging into one continuum, of darkness
And death, we know, is dark
The darkness, it speaks
Of loneliness, of pains unfelt
In the deep nooks, and crannies
Of the tortured mind, there is
No speaking, no hearing, nothing
They say it is cowardly, and
Mean to walk off, into
The dark, the void, the meaninglessness
But it takes superhuman courage
To confront the demons, and ‘win’
Fare thee well, O shining
Star launched from the Cape, but
Seen in Cairo, in Nairobi, in Eldoret
The silence speaks, but
The silence speaks well of thee.
Lukoye Atwoli MBChB(Moi), MMed Psych(Nairobi), PhD(UCT)
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Dean, Moi University School of Medicine
Honorary Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, UCT
Visiting Scientist, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Secretary-General, African Association of Psychiatrists
Hon Vice-President, Kenya Medical Association
My heartfelt love and sympathy go out to you Vuyo and Gugu, and your lovely mom, on the sad passing of an exceptional man and a truly loved and special father and husband. Please know that you are in my thoughts at this very difficult time.
Dear Professor Phakeng
I have been a personal friend and collaborator of Professor Mayosi for over many years. Like everyone who knew him, I am deeply saddened by his passing away. I thought I should share with you and the UCT community—of which I am a member by virtue of my position as visiting professor in the Department of Medicine—my sympathy and condolences. Below is a message that I sent to Dr Mpiko Ntsekhe, Head of Cardiology, which I hope could be shared with all during the memorial service.
Here is how I choose to remember Bongani: As a loyal friend; a mentor with a huge heart; a loving husband who was committed to loving his wife, Nonhlanhla; a father whose love for his two daughters—Vuyi and Gugu—was exemplary; an optimist who selflessly gave hope to others even on days when he could do with receiving such hope for himself; a teacher who was a shoulder to cry on for so many during their own times of darkness and despair; a researcher who dared to dream about preventing pre-mature deaths caused by heart disease. To many, he was: a coach; a builder; a giver; a role-model; an advisor: a supporter; a friend; a protector: a teacher; a guide: a facilitator; a listener; a resource; a collaborator; an encourager; an advocate; a counsellor; a confidante; the list goes on! He was what every person wished they could be—a perfect human being who cared about imperfect human beings, without expecting anything in return! We will miss him; McMaster will miss him; Canada will miss him; the world will miss him; I will miss him! My visits to Cape Town will never be the same—for Bongani brought me to Cape Town! The picture below—taken at his 51st birthday celebration with family, friends, mentees and colleagues—captures the essence what Bongani meant to all us! A true friend with a legendary smile!
To Nonhlanhla, Vuyi and Gugu (and family): I cannot claim that I will ever understand the depth of your despair from losing Bongani! In times like these, we call on God’s intervention: May God bring stillness to your emotional turmoil; unexplainable clarity to your confusion; wisdom to your daily worries; contentment to your strive; patience to your panic; hope to your suffering; faith to your frustration; May He bless you with heavenly peace that no one can understand; may He blanket you with hope—it’s through hope that you can live your faith with courage knowing God is always on your side! This is my prayer for you; a prayer of the world for you!
To all Bongani’s mentees: Losing a mentor is like having the centre of your equilibrium shifted underneath you! However, I urge you to focus on the words of wisdom that Bongani shared with you. May his voice come to you whenever you’re in trouble, or in need of his wisdom. Live your lives to the fullest with full knowledge that Bongani is rooting for you from above! He will always be rooting for you! His work on this earth is done, but yours is just beginning! Let’s honor him with living your passion and helping others, who less fortunate or just in need of a helping hand. You have all been treated to academic royalty through his mentorship. Use it!
To Bongani’s colleagues and friends: You have been treated to a taste of true loyalty and friendship; a smile like any other on this globe; an example of what true collegiality and partnership are! May you all smile like Bongani did; be loyal like he was; be friendly and kind like he was; be passionate and compassionate like was!
Bongani, rest in peace my friend! Thank you for a life well-lived; for your kindness and friendship; for all the conversations we shared! I will miss you!
Professor and personal friend, McMaster University
I do not know the Prof or his family, but I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to his wife, children, families, friends and colleagues.
I lost my Brother aged 56 to depression on the 27th June 2018. It still feels so unreal.
We as a family are devastated and I know what you all must be going through.
So many unanswered questions..
Cherish those precious moments you all had together and know that he is at Peace.
If only more could be done for Mental Health in South Africa.
Rest in Peace Prof B Mayosi
Dear Mayosi-Khumalo family
I really just wanted to send your family my deepest condolences. I can’t even begin to imagine what everyone must be feeling but I am offering my support and help in all ways I possibly can. I don’t really know how to offer condolences over email but I am truly sorry for your loss.
I really did not know Prof. Mayosi on a personal level. I think I am one of the few students who didn’t greet him when I walked passed him, as I tended to look down when he walked passed me (out of intimidation). In retrospect, He wasn’t an intimidating man but when he sent us all home in 2016, that was a bit scary so I was slightly scared of him.
He was the person most med student wanted to be. He was an internationally-known researcher in cardiology and was happily married with children. He had the best of both worlds and that was the one thing I admired most about him.
He will be missed and his footprints shall forever be engraved in the sand of time for us to follow but never to try to fill.
MBChB III student
Dear Mayosi family,
Deepest condolences with the passing of a great man.
My son, currently a fith year medical student, is devastated by the loss of this fine human being as I am sure many students are.
A brilliant man, a visionary, a genius. We are all poorer for losing this legendary soul.
May he rest in peace, and may God fold you in His arms and comfort you.
We will always remember Prof as a gentle soul, that sought to serve and inspired courage and strength as a byproduct of that willingness to serve.
He will be remembered as well, for his achievements that have inspired not only the nation, but the international community as well. Above all, he will be remembered as a father and a husband.
May his gentle soul Rest In Peace.
Bongani was a much-loved and respected colleague, leader and role model - may his spirit of servant leadership live on in our Faculty and continue to inspire us to serve the greater good.
Thank you Bongani for a life well- lived!
Thank you Nonhlanhla for all you and your family have sacrificed in support of Bongani.
We are holding you all in our thoughts and prayers - may you know God's strength and peace in full measure and draw comfort from these words : Philippians 4:6-8
Thank you Lord for people like Bongani who show us what great potential we all have to bless others with our gifts and talents
James & Ros Irlam
Primary Health Care Directorate
E47 OMB Groote Schuur Hospital
UCT Faculty of Health Sciences
Subject: INDLOVU IWILE
VUMANI KALOKU NDALEK’ UMSUNDULO
VUMANI KALOKU NDIBOPHEEEE
KUB’ INXEBA LOMNTU LIBOTSHWA KWANGABANTU
ASIZINJA THIN’ EZIZIKHOTH’ AMANXEBA
NGXEE ! NGXE : SIZWE SAKOWETHU
YITHANI TUU NOMELELE
LIXELEG’UKUFA ELIXHWILA AMANENE
SIRHOVU-RHOVU ESIHLUTH’INZWANA NENZWAKAZI
LIFIKA LIGQOGQISE NGESAQUPHE
LIWASHIYE EZEL’AMAQULA ZINYEMBEZI
QUBA : LWACITHEKA UBISI SELE KUPHOTHULIWE
DIBI : CIKE : SAVALEK’ ISISELE KUSADINJAZWA
NGOKWENEN’ IMEL’ IGOBELE ESANDLENI
UMNKILE MADOD’ UBHUNGAN’ ENGABHUNGISANGA
IRHAMB’ ELINENDEVU LORHADEBE
ISINXADA NXANDA SENDLU KA MAYOSI
UMPHAKULI WETSILI LINOLWAMVILA
UNZIPHOND’ OWAPHAND’ IMINGXUM’ ENGANGENWAYO
WAQAQAMBA NJENGE GQANGE LOMLILO KWEZEMFUNDO
IKHANKATHA LEDYUNIVESITHI YEKAPA
THOLE LEDUNA LOMKTHIMKULU
USIGAXA MABHANTI OHLONITSHWA LIHLABATHI
IMAPHUNGUBE IYAZANA NAYE
INGILANI NE MELIKA LIKHAYA KUYE
INGCUNGCW’ EMLOM’ UNTSHU-NTSHU
QHARHA-QHARHA LENCOKW’ELIMAZINYO MHLOPHE
MYEKENI KAMBE AYOKUPHUMLA
AKAFANGA KALOKU ULELE
UKUBA BEKUTHENI ZEKUTHI
YAMBATHENI NOKUBA IYARHWEXA
GINYANI NOKUBA KUYAKRAKRA
NIMYEKE APHUMLE URHADEBE
THULANI KE LUTSHANA
I extend my deepest condolences to the Mayosi family, fellow students, whole uct community, South Africa, Africa.
Hamba Kahle qhawe. Uyibekile Induku ebandla.
To Prof. Bongani,
To the owner of the smile that lit up the silent corridors that we walked through,
May the ever-forgiving GOD be kind to you, may He be on your side (even in this tragedy).
Although we still haven’t welcome the way you chose to exit this life, we are still mourning.
At the same time, we are celebrating the achievements that you made here on earth.
You were a role model to many, your humility and smartness always convincing us that nothing is impossible.
As I still continue to ponder, I pray that your soul find peace on the other side.
My belief is that you have now left your worries and depression behind.
Until we meet again, you will be greatly missed. May your soul R.I.P.
May GOD grant your family enough strength and encouragement to go through this…
With much love,
My memory of the Dean will always be that of a gentle intellectual giant. He did not value intellectual slothfulness, instead, he rose to the top of the professional and academic ranks by valuing a meeting of the minds and with hard work and dedication. He treated students, colleagues and patients with unwavering diligence and commitment to the oath he took as a medical doctor – respect for differences. I feel ashamed of the pressure he was put under to take sides – it was against his beliefs. He chose to lay down his life. That took enormous courage. May his legacy as a human being anchor us all.
Emeritus Associate Professor Una Kyriacos Ph.D, Fellow (Academy of Nursing of South Africa)
MSc, BCur IetA, Oph N, Crit Care, RN RM
Faculty of Health Sciences
Nursing & Midwifery Div.
Department of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Dear Family of Prof Mayosi,
Although I did not know your beloved well, the few times I got to meet and interact with him were really inspirational moments. Prof had the energy, the brightest of mind, the kindest of smile that would raise in one breath (pacifist) armies of people to follow him to the end of the world… He wanted to change the world and keep us safe from harm… and he definitely did. It makes it even more so devastating that we were not able to keep him safe from his illness.
Prof has left a legacy of scientists, kind hearted people like him who want to work hard at making a difference and his name, through this legacy, will continue to shine, like it so rightly deserves.
No words can make his loss bearable to us, but hopefully all the love/admiration that we share with you will lighten a bit your sorrows, because by association, this love is also for you.
Dr Gaëlle Ramon (PhD Chemistry)
Manager: Researcher Development
University of Cape Town, Research Office
Dear Mayosi family and friends,
It was with such a heavy heart that I learned of the passing of Prof Bongani Mayosi. I have known Bongani since the early 2000's when we consulted together over a very sick boy with an atypical cardiomyopathy. Since then I have watched from the sidelines as he grew as a person, as a colleague clinician, as a researcher, and then as a leader, first heading the Department of Medicine then the Faculty of Health Sciences.
His stature was small, but he filled a room. He is leaving the world a wealthier place for him having been in it.
Him been taken by suicide, with the resulting shock rippling through the community, has meant that he will leave an additional legacy, I am sure unforeseen by him, of an awareness of depression. He is continuing his task of informing and educating communities, albeit it a field not of his choosing.
Thank you Mayosi family for your courage and bravery to allow this.
Thank you Mayosi family for sharing Prof with us.
I wish him eternal peace.
Dr Michelle Carrihill
Paediatrician and peadiatric endocrinologist
Groote Schuur and Red Cross Hospitals
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The University of Cape Town mourns the passing of Professor Bongani Mayosi, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, who left us on the morning of Friday, 27 July. While this is a very difficult time for both students and staff, particularly those in the Faculty of Health Sciences, it is also a time to reflect on and celebrate the incredible life of one of the university’s finest academics and researchers.