The Cape Malay choir fraternity is in mourning after losing their longest standing leader, Boeta Shafiek April to Covid -19 this week.
Mr. April, 82, as he was fondly known, was the president of the Cape Malay Choir Board.
So it is with great sadness that we bid farewell to a cultural icon.
He lived, breathed and loved this culture of Malay choir singing so much that he spent most of his life trying to keep it relevant and alive.
I spoke to him many times and he would often call me to speak about the choirs, and was always excited about any new innovative event that transpired within this culture.
Although he had the highest ranking status within the fraternity, he always remained as humble as can be. He was soft-spoken and was always smiling.
His reasoning was always logical and his leadership qualities were far superior to many others, hence he remained the top guy in our culture for so long.
When it came to the music, he loved Nederlandsliedere and was always welcoming change and innovation.
I remember, he once said: “Hoe kan hulle expect ‘n ou moet ‘n liedjie sing vandag soes mense 100 jaar terug gesing het? Is impossible.”
Boeta Shafiek was always aware of everything that happened within the culture and he knew when to speak out and when to remain quiet. This was not only to protect the culture , but also to preserve the character of others.
He encouraged me when many people started to question my ability to write about the Malay choir and klops fraternity.
He told me: “Hou net aan, my klong. Ek het oek soes jou begin met ‘n boek en pen; en skryf die culture in ‘n positive lig.”
At the end of every competition he used to make the announcements, and just like a politician he wasn’t always well received, mostly because people expected their own teams to win.
What I admired about him in that moment is that he had the courage to get onto that stage at every single competition day and speak to the crowd about whatever was transpring in the fraternity -- no matter what the feeling was amongst the public.
He did not run the fraternity to please everyone. Instead, he did what was best for the culture at all times.
I got him once as he made his way off the stage after making an unpopular announcement, and he looked at me and said, “hulle sal nie verstaan nie, but ons gaan aan.” Then he smiled and walked away and returned to that same stage a day later.
Mr. April was the type of person who was so dignified and respectable that even if you disliked him for whatever reason, after spending a few minutes in his company you would start to love his character and his mind.
That’s probably why he was always surrounded by his friends and fellow fraternity brothers.
They all wanted to be in his company to learn about the culture from the great Malay choir leader himself.
To our advantage, Boeta Shafiek was also a businessman!
Everyone in corporate life knows that when a business is run with love only, it will most likely suffer losses.
Even though Mr. April loved the culture, he was dedicated to how the books were doing. Hy het altyd a plan gemaak! When the Good Hope Centre was no longer the resident venue of the CMCB, he took us to the Bellville Velodrome.
When that became too small to host the Top 8 competition, we all found ourselves in the Castle of Good Hope where he said: “Is nogal kwaai hiesa, almal enjoy hulle”.
The Malay choir competition will remain with us for many years to come due to the great leader - Mr. Shafiek April.
We salute you! Your legacy will live on because we will continue to keep it alive.
May the Almighty grant you jannah-tul-firdous, in sha Allah!