We celebrate and give everlasting thanks for the life of Vuyisile Onesmus Radebe, the one-of-a-kind son of Ntombifuthi Maud Rothlisberger (nee Radebe) and Amos Makgalemele. Vuyi’s extraordinary life started in the dusty township of Alexandra in Johannesburg. The pride and joy of his grandmother, he spent his early years with Makhulu Ntombegusha and her maternal family in the picturesque village of Nhlangwini in southern KwaZulu-Natal. He attended Elukhanyisweni and later Carter Primary Schools and was then selected by the Gifted Child Programme for enrolment at St Albans College in Pretoria under the life-changing tutelage and mentorship of Barry Poppleton. He was awarded a scholarship to complete A-levels at the UWC Atlantic College in Wales where he sharpened his political astuteness in the privileged company of the most academically talented students from all over the globe.
In a life full of countless incredible experiences that include dancing with the late Princess of Wales, Vuyi’s journey took him to Dartmouth College where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. In the academic halls of this magnificent institution, on the rugby field where he distinguished himself and in elite Honour Societies, Vuyi met friends from all walks of life who were to remain his brothers and sisters for the rest of his life. After College he worked as an analyst on Wall Street honing his corporate finance skills for a couple of years before he heeded the strong call of the African continent. His broad industry experience, cross-functional training, strong strategic and financial engineering as well as transaction structuring skills added much value in the corporate positions he occupied. Vuyi was also a highly sought after strategic and operations management adviser to many Chief Executive Officers, directors of companies and deal-makers.
He met his wife, Pam shortly after his return from New York City and they enjoyed 23 years together. They were blessed with two children, Hlangalethu Tlotliso, 16 and Zoluntu Motheo, 14. He was a loving and devoted husband, and a proud and doting father who never missed an opportunity to support his children at their various school events. To the awe of many, he continued his support of Zoluntu by the sidelines of swimming pools and of Hlanga in piano recitals when his illness was far advanced.
A political provocateur who was never afraid to offer his views, always from the perspective of Nhlangwini, his spiritual home and the alleyways of Alexandra Township. He was highly read, well-travelled, globally-cultured and extremely Zulu-culture and heritage proud. Vuyi enjoyed listening to Zulu maskandi music in the same way he did the Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Etta James and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. The latter was his lullaby during many sleepless nights.
Vuyi was a talented athlete who captained rugby in both high school and college. He was a keen golfer playing from a handicap of 10. He valued excellence and knowledge and fully supported and encouraged all who displayed these traits, young and old.
Vuyi’s life is an “against all odds”, Outlier and Hillbilly Elegy one. No number of pages would be enough to fill his colourful and extraordinary life story. His influence spanning across continents has inspired the lives of many. May he dance in light, in peace and in everlasting love.
He is survived by his wife Pam; children, Hlangalethu and Zoluntu; his mother Ntombifuthi; sisters Beverley and Simona; and only surviving aunt, Helen. Vuyi was also blessed with a large extended family of nephews and nieces, godchildren and a host of friends from across his extraordinary life and international footprint, who became his lifelong brothers and sisters.
May this prince, this warrior rest in God’s glory and eternal Peace.