Sindiswa Emily Seakhoa (née Tseu), a daughter of the soil, iSangoma/Umntu omhlophe (Traditional Healer), actor, song-writer, composer, guitarist, singer and entrepreneur, is no more.
Far and near, many hearts are in agony because a meteor has left our firmament. A gift of light, a sparkle of the purest gold that brought the joy of sunshine, enlightenment and wonder to many for decades, has gone to the supreme realm, to the celestial infinity, there to sing new melodies amid the stars, in the assembly of the Gods.
To the Maker the glow has returned, and even though we ache in agony for her passing, her radiance lives on in our hearts.
A mind open to learning
Born and raised 49 years ago in Ga-Tsebe, a peri-urban village near the township of Mabopane, Sindiswa began her education at Phuta Primary School and completed her matric at Senthibele Senior Secondary School in Soshanguve.
She studied arts and communications through the University of South Africa (UNISA), later acquiring qualifications in Human Resources and Business Studies in preparation for a career that would see her make spirited contributions to South Africa’s arts and heritage sectors.
Before dedicating her life to the performing arts, she started off in the retail sector where she honed her aptitude in customer care and public relations, competencies that found a gentle and willing heart, a friendly demeanour and a disposition to serve.
A piece of gold
Known affectionately to family and friends as Sindi, she will be remembered fondly for her boundless generosity, kindness and fairness. Her relations with people were characterised by respect and devotion to peace.
Tenacious and indefatigable, no obstacle would stand in her way in the pursuit of shared goals, and in this way she earned a reputation as a go- getter and a workaholic, unconscious of the clock, often going beyond the call of duty to achieve a purpose.
It was hardly a surprise that over the years she rose in stature as a dynamic leader, generating intricate programmes and strategies, mobilising resources, navigating and contesting complex ideas, inspiring and managing multi-disciplinary teams in the patriotic quest to remember, celebrate and honour a glorious cultural heritage. In every sense, Sindiswa was a rare piece of gold.
The artist assumes the stage
Her debut album, “Tata”, was launched at the International Jazz Day celebrations on 30 April 2015 at the South African State Theatre in Tshwane. Her songs fuse classical African music and contemporary rhythm and blues.
Her career saw her perform at countless events, including the Hugh Masekela Annual Lecture; International University of East Africa, Kampala, Uganda; the 4th Chinua Achebe Annual Colloquia at Brown University, Rhode Island, USA; Nelson Mandela’s 95th Birthday celebrations at the Nelson Mandela Foundation offices in Johannesburg, and among many others.
An award-winning playwright and actress, Sindiswa was also a puppeteer and a published poet. Her debut play, “The Pain”, won the 1998 FNB VITA AWARD as the Most Outstanding Production at the Windybrow Annual Arts Festival. Her second play, “Thespian”, featured at the Young Writers Festival at the Market Theatre in 2002. She also acted in many productions, including Selaelo Maredi’s “Black Age”, “Cabbages”, “The Transistor Radio” and “The Wheel”, the latter two by the late Nigerian author and playwright, Ken Saro-Wiwa; Bessie Head’s “Maru” and Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”.
She has also performed professional script readings and adjudication for community theatre and appeared on television series, “Soul City” and “The Missing Link”.
A leading light in the heritage sector
At the time of her passing, Sindiswa Seakhoa was the Executive Accounts Director at the wRite associates, a one-stop events & project management company she founded with her husband, Raks Morakabe Seakhoa. The wRite associates conceptualises, develops, implements and supports highly effective project and event management strategies across – but not limited to – the arts, culture and heritage realm.
Among its many achievements, the wRite associates has hosted community literary readings, theatre and poetry performances, distribution of books at schools, writing workshops for communities and schools, established a library in Ga Tsebe and inaugurated the South African Poet Laureate, the highest honour conferred upon writers of the medium.
One of their most remarkable accomplishments is the inauguration of the South African Literary Awards (SALA), an initiative launched in conjunction with the national Department of Arts, Culture and Heritage.
The SALAs have been conferred annually since 2005 to exceptional South African writers. They pay tribute to South African writers who have distinguished themselves as ground-breaking producers and creators of literature and celebrate literary excellence in the depiction and sharing of South Africa’s histories, value systems, philosophies and art. The Awards are open to work in all of South Africa’s eleven official languages, and they may include posthumous honours.
Since 2005, the number of awards has multiplied and grown to fourteen categories, recognising a variety of literary forms. These include children’s literature, youth literature, literary journalism, novels, poetry, creative non-fiction, debut works, and literary translation, as well as two award categories, namely the ‘K. Sello Duiker Memorial Award’ for novelists under the age of 40, and the ‘Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award’. The Lifetime achievement is recognised in the ‘Poet Laureate Prizes’ and the ‘Lifetime Achievement’, ‘Posthumous’, and ‘Chairperson’s Awards’.
SALA was founded by the wRite associates, in partnership with the South African Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in 2005. Since 2012, the SALAs have been given at the annual ‘Africa Century International Writers Conference’.
Gogo Sindiswa answered the call of the drum in 2017 and embraced the gift of the Gods to become a Traditional Healer. Before then she had obtained qualifications in integrative medicine.
She combined her expertise remarkably and launched the Kayamina Guesthouse in 2016, a greatly graded establishment in the north of Johannesburg that provides holistic natural wellness through therapeutic care and massage therapies.
Combined with the Kayamina Guesthouse was the spiritual haven called Ubomu Revival Wellness Centre, a place of cultural consultation, reflection and natural healing.
A home blessed with love
Among Sindi’s remarkable attributes was her distinction as a doting wife and loving mother.
Together with her husband they were blessed with Mongile, Ruthfirst, Lerato, Fidel, Innocent, Kyle, Palesa, as well as Morena and Tauhadi who passed in their early years and with whom she will be joined in peaceful rest.
She is survived by her mother, Betty; I as her husband; six siblings, Jimmy, Thabitha, Nozipho, Muziwakhe, Vuyani and Howard, Lulamile and Nombulelo. She joins her departed siblings Joseph, Sophie, Gladys, Matilda and Mxolisi.
MESSAGES OF CONDOLENCES
Three messages of condolences were received from H.E. Kgalema Motlanthe, former President of South Africa; National Writers Association of South Africa (NWASA); the Mazisi Kunene Foundation; SALA through the Advisory Board Chairperson, Prof Zodwa Motsa; the wRite Associates; Prof Nwando Achebe; Prof Wangui wa Goro; Eugene Skeef; Duma Ndlovu; Prof Nhlanhla Maake; and a countless number of cultural workers directly to the family and through social media posts.
Dumelang Bagaetsho. My name is Dr. Lebogang Lance Nawa, Secretary-General of the National Writers Asscoaition of South Africa (NWASA) on whose behalf I send heartfelt condolences to the families and relatives of our beloved deceased sister Sindiswa as well as our bother Morakabe ‘Raks’ Seakhoa. Even as writers who trade in words, we today have not much to say except to say re mo kutlong botlhoko le lona. May our sister Sindiswa rest in peace and our brother Raks be conforted.
Prof Nhlanhla Maake:
The Maake family will be there to say fare thee well to a granite pillar of strength, woman of all seasons, of indomitable strength, inexhaustible stamina, versatile talents, multiple gifts, titanic of the sea, aerodynamic eagle of the skies and soaring hawk, monument of ages, Sindiswa Seakhoa, never die even in death.
Condolences for the loss of one of my daughters in SA
Comrade Raks, be strong and be composed each moment of preparation to send her to her final home.
Comrade Raks, death is known to be a natural phenomenon, though it’s so hurtful and often leaving a feeling that you have really lost not only the beloved but also a close partner, someone who was placed on central position in your family, relatives and comrades and friends.
Let her rest in peace.
She will be always remembered.
From Dr TT Cholo