Ode to a Beloved - Khutsa Ngwato

One never really draws pleasure out of writing obituaries. They are saddening because they are mostly the last stories we write about people we love(d). The last chance we have to eulogise them and label them saints. However I got a feeling this won’t be the last time I blow Steve Warrel Matsane’s trumpet and sing his praises. I hope to revisit his memory when he receives his due national honour for the countless hours he put in his struggle to uplift those who had far less than himself.

Matsane, who was born on 01 March 1978 passed away on Workers’ Day (01 May 2010) after a protracted illness. His elder brother Edward Matsane said that Steve carried the pain of being unwell through the various travels he took with his troupe of children – mostly orphans who he was deeply involved in teaching traditional dance, music and other aspects of tradition.

He started his school at Malengeza Primary and later moved on to Mathipe Senior Secondary (Marite Village - Bushbuckridge). After matric he formed Steve Youth Development Traditional Dancers without any money to fund his vision. A businessman friend continued to finance the group and their travels until recently. Later on Steve had a stint as a volunteer at Community Radio Bushbuckridge. That is where the media bug sunk its teeth into him. To his very last breath Steve babysat the performers who gave their all to make his dream of developing the youth of not only Marite Trust but Mpumalanga as well, a reality.

Matsane loved kids with all his heart. Every conversation you had with him he would always talk about the European countries he wanted to take the children to dance. It is a dream he harboured even when he moved on to work for Bushbuckridge News as a journalist – splitting his time between deadlines and cultural work.

There actually are few people who have met Steve and never got touched by his jovial mood, his spirit and hoarse voice. He has been many things, a SAFA Bushbuckridge South under-14 and 16 coach, a political activist, a cultural worker and a truly giving person. He would have loved to see the FIFA World Cup 2010.

He was an altruistic spirit for whose loss Mpumalanga, and by extension South Africa is poorer. Matšhaba seboni, marata go retwa, magana bosa, my friend and colleague, I swear this is not a goodbye. I shall write an extended profile of your short life when you finally receive that Order of Ikhamanga, posthumous.

Poet John Donne rightfully orated, “Death be not proud, though others have deemed thee mighty and dreadful/ for thou art not so”. And Marite is forever indebted to this young departed soul. Steve is survived by three brothers and two sisters. He was buried on Saturday (May 07, 2010) at Marite Trust. Khutsa Ngwato.

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