Unsung heroes honoured with trees

The first four trees were planted at a public cricket ground in the area.

The ANC Robert Waterwitch Thornhill branch has planted fruit trees in memory of unsung community heroes.

The Dignity Trees project – launched on Saturday September 12 – will see several trees planted in Ward 46, covering Rylands and Manenberg.

Those honoured at the launch were Dr Abdul Wahab Barday (1942-2019), Edward “Uncle Eddie” Nair (1936-2019), Al-Hadj Ebrahim Omar (1927-2018) and Roy Poobalan Pillay (1955-2009).

Branch secretary Majid Mowzer said the trees were planted in public places “in the spirit of generosity and in the hope of making a small impact on the palpable hunger in the community”.

The first four trees were planted at a public cricket ground in the area.

At the tree planting ceremony, Mr Mowzer told the gathering of Dr Barday’s service to the poor, Mr Nair’s immaculate dress and punctuality, Mr Omar’s support of orphans and voluntary work at the Muslim Assembly and Mr Pillay’s community spirit and sociability.

Naseema Barday said of her father: “He was a man of simple beginnings who never strayed far from where he came from in his personal habits.

“He was proud of his heritage, and remained humble in his ways”.

Zubeida Omar recalled how her father, in his final hours, had instructed the family to continue supporting the poor.

Mr Nair’s daughter, Priscilla, said: “A man of modest means, he possessed a deep sense of the value of everyone. His compassion, humility and intrinsic stoicism made him great.”

Jaison Pillay recalled how, as a young child, he had gone door to door with his father, distributing pamphlets during the first democratic election campaign.

Remembering his parents’ association with the late Dullah Omar and his wife, Farida, Jaison said: “As a family we often talked about how privileged we were to have lived in the same era as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Ahmed Kathrada and the many more
who gave of themselves so selflessly. Many whose service to the country were underpinned by pure values, ethics and sound principles – where the struggles of the country were greater than any individual goal, materialism and the ego.

“These were true visionaries who personified the old African proverb that says ‘Might is not right, right is might’.”

Sheikh Abdurrahman Alexander, Father Peter-John Pearson and Vaasie Archary, who led the Hindu prayer, were also in attendance.

The branch’s chairperson, Fatima Chohan, challenged all other ANC branches as well as other political parties and community organisations to adopt the Dignity Trees programme.

The branch will plant the next four fruit trees, sponsored by the Barday, Nair, Omar and Pillay families, on Saturday December 5 at Rylands Primary School.