From where I sit,
These mountains isolate me.
From the valley of my people,
Beyond the Drakensburg,
Across the Tugela River,
Over the Umkhomzi Pass
Lies the Valley of Nhlangwini.
There the mountains drip with
Springs of clear water,
Every man has his own homestead,
Every hill is a home for cattle,
Every hut is a home for extended family.
There my people live,
They are poor but they are built with love.
Everyone is filled with dignity and respect;
Every man in ‘Baba’,
Every woman in ‘Mama’,
They all are equal and respected.
From where I sit,
These mountains isolate me
From the valley of my people.
Nhlangwini, home of the seeds,
Land of plenty.
“My heart broke today. No one in my entire life has ever challenged me and pushed me to overcome adversity and secondly to be the best version of oneself in every facet of life. What a sharp brain, from the streets of Alex to a top Ivy League school and then to Wall Street. I’m going to miss this guy, a LOT, and all the shenanigans we got up over 25 years.”
The man suffered. Let us release him. Ha moya wa hae o robale ka kgotso. – Winston Monale
Sincere condolences to the family. – Tsepa Ramoriting
Our heartfelt condolences. Akalale ngo xolo uBhungane – Themba Nyembezi
Wonderful soul. MHSRIP. – Andrew Makenete
Vuyi left an exemplary legacy and chartered a path for many to follow. God bless him and his family during this trying time. ~ Musi Skosana
May his soul rest in eternal peace – Tapiwa Munemo
“Pam thank you for doing this for Vuyi. Thank you also so much for including his Family (abo Radebe) even though some are very far.This would have meant a lot to him. Vuyi was very fond of his culture and traditions. He was a gent, who was excited by achievement and progress and really sought to establish his standing, not only in the world but also, in his community and family. His story can be a best-selling book. The years he suffered illness, showed his fighting spirit and also his wit and naughty character. I pray for love, peace and joy in your life with your kids.”
~ Lwazi Mzozoyana
Condolences to Pam and the kids, may you find peace in the hands of God.
Phumula ndoda yamadoda! Shinga lama Shinga!
Uyibekile induku ebandla, siyibonile.
Best of Regards to your family,
Dr Mpucuko Nxumalo
“The true greats are often the most humble, most unassuming, most loving of people from all walks of life, most curious, most challenging and most open. Vuyi was all of these things and so much more. A giant in heart and intellect. This world has lost a passionate contributor. What a courageous journey he walked. Such strength and bravery. Our hearts are aching, but Rest In Peace dearest brother. We release you with love.”
“I used to be fascinated by how you would swiftly move from the Bain Executive Boardroom, to uMjita wa ko Alex, Kleva, book and street smart. I also enjoyed how you would narrate and analyse stories. At any given opportunity, you would perform the traditional zulu dance and request that Maskandi be played at parties. You deserve an eternal peaceful rest Vuyi. So long brother. May Pam, the children and your family be comforted, granted strength and healing.”
We remember him at my house with my Son in law .The way he was happy and doing his Zulu Dance.MHSRIP. Lucia Shasha
I feel so privileged to be able to call Vuyi my friend. He was the most courageous, driven caring human being. His extraordinary determination throughout his life is a lesson to us all!
Vyui had so many admirable qualities; always showing interest, being interesting and focusing on others’ strengths. When I asked my kids what they would say about him they reiterated my words “caring and interested”. I loved his wicked sense of humor and mischievousness.
I hope to take from our friendship the blessing of kindness and courage. Pam, your warrior, husband and best friend is at peace. Hlanga & Lulu the values that your father has instilled in you both will be with you forevermore. Carry him in your hearts with pride.
Hamba ngokuthula iqhawe lethu lakwaZulu
Janine, James, Daniel and Gabi
There are few days that go by without me thinking about something I learned from Vuyi. About struggle, and accomplishment. About adapting and being comfortable in unfamiliar settings. About race. About the joys of intellectual discourse – real discourse with the goal of pursuing truth, even if that truth makes us uncomfortable. About living in a world that contains shades of grey – rather than a world that tries to demand that we be completely on one side or the other. He was full of what some might say are contradictions – an Ivy League graduate from Zululand via Alex. A leader of the African/Caribbean Society at Dartmouth while a member of a fraternity (at the time a violation of AfriCaSo policies). A Marxist working on Wall Street! But they weren’t contradictions, they were the fabric of an incredibly rich life. Despite the sadness, I am thankful for every minute I got to spend with him. How I would love to be a fly on the wall for the debates I am sure he is already having in the heavens.
Moya wa ka o tetebetse. Robala ka kgotso ngwana bo rona. ~ John Mohlalefi Seheri
Heartbreaking news. May he now Rest In Peace. ~ Tshepo Molebatsi
May his departed soulf rest in peace. A fine gentleman indeed. ~ Thokozani
What a gentleman. Makalale ngoxolo. ~ Litha Nkombisa
We’ve lost an amazing human being. MHSRIP ~ Moss Ngoasheng
He was truly an amazing awesome man. ~ Graham Kusano
We remember him at my house with my Son in law .The way he was happy and doing his Zulu Dance.MHSRIP. ~ Lucia Shasha
When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.
Our thoughts, love and prayers are with you and your family as you hold firm to the lasting memories of your dear husband and father.
From the uBumbano Family
You fought a gallant fight. You lived life to the fullest. I enjoyed every moment together. Until we meet again. Umkhul’ uBhungane !! Camagu.
Thank you for sharing your incredible vitality so generously with all of us who were lucky to be near you, albeit just for a short while, in your life time. You will live on in our hearts. Rest assured.
Lots of love, Malou
Vuyisile, you taught me patience and perseverance; you showed me that we are stronger than we ever thought possible. You taught me to embrace every single day; tomorrow is never promised.
Your short time on earth was enough to see your personality blossom.
I am so sorry Vuyi. I am sorry for you, for myself, and for everyone who cared so deeply about you. You were an amazingly intelligent person with an uncommon intellectual curiosity. You were someone who could have made some more positive changes in the world on so many different levels.
Vuyi, your mortals may be out of our sight but one thing I know: I am so grateful that you were my son, and that I had the honour and pleasure of having you be a part of my life from the moment our paths crossed. You brought a beautiful light to my life that I shall always treasure. I shall really miss you – your dry wit, your kindness, your love of singing, your beautiful smile, your brightness, your flamboyant character. I wish you so much love and light in the heavenly places always.
Lala kahle uphumule
From Mama Thuli Mthembu
Vuyi, I didn’t know you well enough, but all I can say is “Wow”, you have an amazing wife and amazing kids. This is a great testament to your role as a husband and father – deep respect.
From the first day I met Vuyi I knew he was the partner we were looking for at Navigare. We had met many possible partners for the business but none were the correct cultural fit for us. What made Vuyi special was his honesty, calmness, humility, knowledge and family values. It was the perfect fit we had been seeking and were so excited, and believed that this would be a dream team.
Vuyi brought a business brain that we had not seen before and took Navigare to a different level. Navigare is where it is today because of Vuyi’s fantastic personal people management and for putting the correct building blocks in place to uplift us to where we are today. Vuyi was the leader we had been craving for.
Even after his diagnosis – I cannot imagine the strain it must have had on his personal life, he fought valiantly with such courage and wanted to come to the office as much as he could. He was a warrior with an unbelievably strong mind and soul. Vuyi soldiered on through all his diversity and almost impossible situation. When some of our staff were in hospital with Covid, who was the only person that called them every day to encourage them and tell them to fight the virus with everything they had? VUYI.
I remember telling him not so long ago during a WhatsApp conversation how much we missed his presence and leadership around the office. Only for Vuyi to tell me “keep my chair warm. I’ll be back to lead you all soon, I’ll beat this disease”. The mind, faith, courage and strength of the man was unbelievable. I can only learn from such strength and power – he was colossal in everything he did.
Vuyi you were our Zulu warrior and will be sorely missed. Our friendship will live on via your wonderful family
Rest in Peace now Vuyisile – your Legacy is assured and will live on with us forever.
The Bruce Clan
I remember the day you took me out for drinks at the Wanderers clubhouse. You sat me down and looked me straight in the eye, and asked whether I knew what I was getting myself into. LOL because the life I was choosing, I needed to savour the moment. I realised then that you had a mischievous character to you. Upon reflection I realise now that I met you at a time when life was dealing you with lemons. However, you maintained a strong and kept-together exterior.
You know I realise now why you didn’t want to tell me your second name. Onesmus. Hahahah you flat out denied you had one. I reckon you knew full well, that I would have taken you to the cleaners on that one.
I have a lot of respect for you. You are a proud Zulu man, and it is fitting that your casket bears that out so much. I experienced you at a time when you had strong desires to return to your heritage, to understand your beginning and your being. You were so proud of your knobkerrie, isgila sakho you called it. I remember how desperately you spoke about integrating your immediate family into your culture so that they too can be as proud as you were.
Wow hey, your story, your journey would be a best seller. Full of thrills, drama, intrigue, achievement, disappointments, failures, tears and joy. But then again those that know you, would not need a book to tell them about you. They lived those moments with you.
Vuyi you advised me a lot, in your fight and will to live you showed me a lot. I will never forget, you telling me that one day, I will be President. When I do, I will make sure to share the moment with you.
You loved your family. Your family stood by you until the end. You have done so much for your family. You made it against all odds. You even ended things on your own terms.
I respect you, I appreciate you. Thank you for the memories, thank you for the experiences and thank you for the lessons.
Go well brother. Go well.
I’ve been smiling through some very damp eyes all evening as I’ve looked over the photos and read the testimonies of Vuyi’s countless friends. Thank you for giving us the gift of communing with him from afar. Below is a moment I’ve recalled often over the years when I’ve thought of Vuyi, so I wanted to share it with you.
Perhaps my favourite memory of Vuyi is one of my first. We lived on the first floor of South Fayerweather Hall in our freshman year at Dartmouth, and fast became debate sparring partners, over late nights, many drinks, and keenly different views of political philosophy. One night, he knocked on my door and asked whether I would go over his first philosophy seminar paper with him. Flattered, I went down the hall to his room, looked around, and asked: “So, where’s the paper?”
Vuyi returned a curious look, walked over to his computer, and then proceeded to read me his entire paper aloud, as if he was addressing a thousand-person campaign rally. His voice booming, his hands gesticulating determinedly, he worked his way to a concluding crescendo along the lines of “…and the people will struggle and throw off the yoke of colonial exploitation!” I’d never heard anything like it.
Then he turned to me, with his mischievous smile, and asked: “Ah Keith, so what do you think?” To which I could only reply: “That was absolutely perfect.” And it was.
From the age of twelve when we first met, to his last days, Vuyi had a drive and determination that was second to none. Add to this his sharp intellect, his humour, his sporting prowess and his concern for those less fortunate than him, this made for a formidable and very unique individual.
I am privileged to have been his tutor, friend and mentee, such was the man’s ability to play many roles in peoples’ lives. Vuyi jumped at every opportunity to advise, master and learn. His life purpose was clear and he pursued it relentlessly.
Monna, you touched so many lives in ways that words cannot fully express. You have left us with many rich and vibrant memories that will motivate and energise us for years to come. Hamba kahle fine friend.
Dearest Pam, Hlanga and Luntu,
What an incredibly beautiful and moving service. Your beloved husband and dad was such an incredible person. The stories shared, the incredibly deep emotion and the sincere love that wove its way through the afternoon is testimony to just how special he was. Even though I have only shared a small part of your journey, I will always keep you in my heart, especially during this new phase where you come to terms with life without Vuyi. I pray that you will find comfort in each other, and that Vuyi’s incredible presence will always be felt in your lives.
Hlanga, he was so incredibly proud of you! I will never forget his shining eyes and pure joy after that incredible performance at the Linder auditorium!! May each note that you play come from your heart and find its way to your dad as he watches over you.
Love to you all,
Uncle Vuyisile you are the most amazing person I have every met. You were always so in touch with your heritage and super religious. You knew all the zulu songs, prayers, rituals, and traditional dance. I’m happy I got to sit in a business meeting with you. I appreciate the loan you gave me in 2009 when I was still building my brand, I’ll return it tenfold to your children. You felt and knew after all my troubled youth and abrupt decisions that altered my life I was going to live up to my name and conquer my destiny. You were always enthusiastic about my dreams, cheered me on and wanted me to be the BEST. It breaks my heart, you won’t be at my future wedding or meet my future son but I’ll always remember your teachings and hold you in high regard always. I love Aunty Pam & the kids and I’ll forever be in their lives. I will never forget the last time I saw you and your smile through your bedroom window. I was so angry Aunty Pam didn’t let us in but hoped to visit you again.When I get my Lamborghini I’ll come show your son and pick you up :-). LOVE YOU so sooo much. REST IN PEACE.
And just like that, we’ve lost Vuyi from our lives. Vuyisile Radebe was one of my first friends at Dartmouth and the best man at my wedding – and every bit as memorable as someone who fills both those roles should be. Getting invited by Vuyi repeatedly for fries was one of the great pleasures of my freshman year. It’s nearly impossible to sum up his life except to say he knocked his short one out of the park in every way. And for someone who started with so little, he returned to the world so much. He was sharp and sporty and funny and good looking – and the most tenacious debater I’ve ever had the pleasure of sparring with. To be clear, I lost every time. But, I also came away, if not reliably riled up, then better informed and more in awe of his mind. More importantly, Vuyi was a fantastically loyal friend and he defended me at every turn, even when I didn’t deserve it. Even better, he had the good sense to marry Pam – and in one beautiful ceremony in South Africa, they doubled the Radebe magic. Pam, you’ve always been every bit Vuyi’s match in smarts and beauty, as are Hlanga and Luntu, whom we adore. And I’m so glad we still have you to stand in for your lovely husband and father who brought us all together. Vuyi, you were a spectacular person. I’m sorry we had no say over how long we had you on earth, but comforted that we can always keep you close in our hearts. Rest comfortably, Vuyi.
I remember first meeting Vuyi in a dorm room at Dartmouth in 1992. A radical young man with dreadlocks and a fighting passion for radical politics. I was terrified! Over the years we engaged in many political debates and arguments, challenging each other based on our life experiences until we eventually found a middle ground through friendship, love and a desire to return to South Africa and contribute to the land of our birth.
In the last 5 years of Vuyi’s life we rekindled our strong friendship; discussing business, philosophy, life and love. Vuyi’s mind was brilliant but more importantly his heart was huge. He was the most passionate of men. Loyal, feisty, unafraid, brave, courageous, determined, and curious. He loved to talk business. He loved to make money. He loved new ventures and even from his bed kept asking me when we were going to do more deals. Mostly though he loved his friends, especially those of us who were his family in the days at Dartmouth and thereafter. And more than anything his family. His desire to be a father to his children, Hlanga and Luntu fuelled his will to live right to the bitter end.
Vuyi’s courage throughout his illness is a lasting example to me of his bravery and determination. He suffered through so much and yet never complained to me, never wanted to talk about his own suffering or illness. He kept his sense of humour, he strengthened his mind, he opened his heart and he kept on living.
I will miss my friend. But he often liked to quote the words of Big Rich, my late father when he was dying of cancer in saying “life, birth and death are the cycle of life.” When I asked Vuyi a few months ago about his philosophy of life he said, “I think we are born, we live, we die. It’s as simple as that.” Let his memory be my inspiration to make the most of the life we have; to cherish our health; to be loyal to our friends; to find purpose through our family. To be honest, brave, courageous and determined. To laugh in the midst of suffering. To always be curious in life. He longed to taste a freshly picked plum. To smell the mountain air again. To sit with friends. To be a father to his children. Let his memory remain with us until our time comes to pass and the luxuries in life that he gave up as each muscle and sense organ left him be cherished by us to its full. Let his feisty passion and curiosity and determination drive us to achieve our best and reach our dreams. Farewell dear friend. May you now Rest In Peace.
To my beloved uncle Vuyisile.
I see you standing and dancing on the tallest mountain eNhlangwini, but I keep shouting- calling for you to come down and feel the soil, and the air dust beneath your feet. I keep trying to convince you that you can stand as tall as you want to down here too. But, you keep ignoring me, and I realize that you maybe can’t hear me, because I’m trying to compete over your chanting and what your spirit and soul knows what to do best. I keep hearing the drums beating, whistles blowing, hands clapping and a breed of women ululating, and echoing; “Radebe, Bhungane.” These magical beings that you’re surrounded by up there have clothed you in your best Zulu warrior attire. They keep giving you Mnqombothi (Zulu beer) for you to taste again. They keep touching your limbs for you to feel again. They continue ululating & celebrating your extraordinary life! I see your smile again. I see your leg positioned at a 180 degree angle flying into the sky and coming down to shake and awaken humanity again. Down here, we do not remember that you were diagnosed with ALS 4 years ago. Down here we remember the hope and dreams that you had. Down here we make your story known.
So whilst you’re up there on the tallest mountain eNhlangwini celebrating with your people, we will remember the lessons and memories you left us with. Vuyisile Onesmus Radebe you lived an incredible life. You are the change. You are the history book. You are our unsung hero. You fought for your life and you made us realize how powerful the mind is, and especially yours. We will make sure that your life doesn’t end with a full stop, but weaves through paragraphs, commas, essays, short stories that can thread your stories together and continue your life. I look up at the mountains and I wave goodbye and I hope you can read my lips saying: Hamba Kahle Radebe, Bhungane. P.S I’ll reserve a seat for you at my wedding day (laughing out loud)
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.