Durban community leader, Ebrahim Siddi Osman, passed away recently, ending a lifetime of contribution towards building a progressive Ummah, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.
When Durban community leader and visionary, Hajee Ebrahim Siddi Osman (82) passed away recently, he wrote in his autobiography that he would like to leave this world with contentment. His Dua was answered.
Hajee Osman wore many hats during his lifetime. He was a noted educationist, rising in the ranks to become Chief Education Planner for teacher education and development. As a passionate fan of tennis, he was picked to become a sports administrator and campaigned relentlessly against discrimination in sport. He served as a board member of many organisations, most notably Muslim Vision 2020, a body that he founded – and which he was proud of.
Muslim Vision 2020’s aim is to develop a pathway for a progressive Ummah of the future – and that vision continues to be realized. One of his pet projects was to host – through Muslim Vision 2020 – the glittering “Night of the Stars” event that honoured sportsmen of yesteryear who excelled despite the constraints of apartheid.
In his 341 page memoir called “Life of My Days”, Hajee Osman chronicles his life from the time he could remember as a six-year-old in India when his mother booked him and his 12-year-old brother, Osman, to sail on the ship called the Karangola, to join their father in Durban. His mother stayed behind, but joined them with other siblings, six months later.
“I can recall the 25-day trip in the Karangola, a tub by today’s standard. But I enjoyed the trip – and the concern showed to me as the youngest passenger. One thing that sticks in my memory is the distinctive aroma of food that was being cooked and served fresh three times a day. Hot rotis, curries and rice, and the variety of Indian delicacies (prepared) by the crew called the “kalasies”.
At the end of his autobiography, titled “The beginning of the end”, Hajee Osman wrote that in 2012, he became ill and ended up in a hospital bed “for a night of two” – for the first time in 77 years. “This was the salutary experience that brought home the harsh reality of the ageing process. Al Hamdo-Lillah, with some modification of lifestyle and good medical care, I have coped well so far. I can only hope and pray that the remainder of the allotted time passes productively with ease and minimal discomfort for me, and those close to me.
“When it is game, set and match, I hope to leave the court of life content and smiling, at least internally if not visibly, INSHA-ALLAH.”
By all accounts, his Dua was accepted: He passed away peacefully at the home of his son, Dr Imtiaz Osman. Hundreds turned up for his janaaza.
Hajee Osman spent his life for the better of the community.
Ebrahim Vawda , his close friend (and member of Muslim Vision 2020 and Islamic Forum), wrote that Hajee Osman was a keen tennis player and went on to become the President of the Southern Natal Tennis Union and a Councilor of the Southern Africa Tennis Association. He published a number of papers on Education and Transformation in Tennis. He also received the Leader Sports Administrator of the Year Award.
“Mr Osman retired from the teaching profession in 1992. At a time when most people would be quite content to relax and take life easy, Mr Osman became ever more active in community affairs. He was the Chairman of Muslim Vision 2020, a community think tank, which was born out of an initiative of the Islamic Forum and which in turn was the catalyst for the initiation of many projects and programmes and for the establishment of other organisations which today are contributing to the betterment of the Muslim Ummah and the community as a whole.
“Mr Osman left his mark in the sporting sphere particularly in tennis. A hallmark of his tenure was his principled position on nonracial sport which he advocated and fought for with courage and tenacity in every forum and in every capacity in tennis. His invaluable contribution was recognized by him being accorded the status of Honorary Life Vice President of the KwaZulu Natal Tennis Association.
In a foreword of Life of my Days, academic Professor Goolam Vahed quoted Hajee Osman when he said: “This is not about me. Through me, it is about the times I lived in… it is about the 70-odd years’ montage of life in general as it touched me.”