Tributes have poured in from across the country as Bonteheuwel’s beloved Koelsoem Kamalie, 71, is remembered – not only for her culinary skills, but also for her kind, generous heart.
Ms Kamalie, or aunty Koelie, as she was known, died of kidney failure on Saturday April 11.
Aunty Koelie and her friend, Florence Schrikker, gained international recognition for their award-winning cookbooks, Kook Saam Kaaps, and also Soettand. The two also had a television show.
It all started when aunty Koelie’s son, Riaz, wrote to radio presenter Amoré Bekker, to tell her of his mother’s excellent cooking.
Her show, Tjailatyd, on Radio Sonder Grense, then invited Aunty Koelie to share some of her recipes. Soon Ms Schrikker joined her, and the two became regular contributors to the show.
Gadija Kamalie, aunty Koelie’s daughter, said her mother loved her religion, she loved to give and “her heart was open for everybody”.
“My mother would share her last. She also had a passion for working with disabled people. She would always say that working with the disabled was her blessing,” Gajida said.
Aunty Koelie’s youngest sister, Samsoeniesa Salie said she had an opportunity to work with her in the 1980s, when she cared for disabled people.
“Gadija was my sister’s laatlammetjie. She was born 12 years after her youngest brother. Before she was born, my sister raised me like I was her daughter. Our parents were old by the time I was born, and she was the one who took care of me and took me to the museums or the movie theatres – things our parents no longer had the energy to do. She always looked out for me. When I went on Hajj in 2005, she was the one I could rely on – with all the cooking and making arrangements for our departure. She also looked after my children during that time. She even gave me my wedding dress,” Ms Salie said.
Ms Salie added that she will also remember her sister for her humour and giving heart.
“She was famous for her humorous superstition and outrageous ‘raadjies’. She was a remarkable woman. She had a lot of stories to tell, especially from her childhood. We could learn a lot. She could talk about any topic – from the royal family to politics. She was also there for everybody. She had this thing that nobody should leave her house without eating or at least taking something with. She was always willing to share and she was never selfish to share her recipes. She also empowered others. If she gave you her pie pastry recipe, for example, she would encourage you to make it and sell the pies for an income. I have so many memories of my dear Tietie that I will cherish forever.”
The Western Cape MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais, also paid tribute to Aunty Koelie.
“We have lost an iconic storyteller. Not only was Aunty Koelsoem an exceptional cook, but her love for her community and extraordinary lived realities were shared through the stories she told while taking you through a unique culinary experience. I remember Aunty Koelsoem captivating all in attendance at our Oral History initiative in Bonteheuwel a few years back, as she walked us through chapters of her life while jovially cooking up a storm with her ever-flanking partner, Florence Schrikker. Her presence, traditional nature and compassionate drive will surely be missed in the Western Cape, particularly in the streets of Bonteheuwel.
“We express our heartfelt condolences to the Kamalie family, friends, loved ones and all who Aunty Koelsoem has meaningfully inspired. May her legacy continue to live on through the aspirations of the younger generation she has motivated through her traditional cooking teachings and a life lived in service of others,” Ms Marais said.
Ward 50 councillor, Angus McKenzie described Aunty Koelie as someone with a heart of gold, who was always willing to share with her community.
“Aunty Koelsoem was not only an amazing wife, mother and grandmother, but an equally amazing cook whose love for her community drove her to continually feed Bonteheuwel’s vulnerable. She had a formidable partnership with Florence Schrikker.
“Aunty Koelsoem will be sorely missed. My deepest and sincere condolences go out to her family, friends and people of Bonteheuwel,” he said.
Chairperson of the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies, Soraya Salie, also expressed her condolences to the family and friends.
“This is surely a great loss to the community as well as to her cooking partner, Aunty Flori. Together they put Bonteheuwel on the map as two diverse people, cooking and writing recipe books together, in harmony. A great example to the world. Irrespective of their different religion, or culture, they set the bar very high. Aunty Koelie will surely be missed by the people she fed on a daily basis. May Allah grant her high stages in Jan’nah. Ameen thumma Ameen.”
The members of the Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum and Bonteheuwel Ratepayers’ and Tenants’ Association also paid their tribute to Aunty Koelie.
The two organisations sent out a joint statement, which read: “Koelsoem Kamalie has left an indelible mark in the lives of many. We would call at 9.50am to say we are bringing visitors to Bonteheuwel and arrive at 10am and were never turned away.
“She was a formidable story teller and would entertain us with stories of years gone by and how she and her partner in crime came to do a cook book together. Half way through the visit she would instruct the driver (whom she just met for the first time) ‘Loop haal vir Flori. Ek kannie die storie alleen vertel nie’. And you dare not decline. That was Aunty Koelie. Her cooking was of the highest quality and she was never selfish with recipes. We make duah that the Almighty grant our Aunty Koelie a high place in Jannah and place sabr and contentment in the hearts of her loved ones. A giant tree has fallen. You will be fondly remembered by many.”
Aunty Koelie leaves her husband, Oesman, three children and eight grandchildren, and countless other children whom she “adopted”.