Message by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP and President of the United Democratic Movement on the occasion of the funeral service of Councillor Mongameli Bobani held at the Feather Market Centre, Port Elizabeth, 20 November 2020

• Mrs Nosakhele Bobani, Mrs Novuyo and Mr Bobani senior, the Bobani children and grandchildren and the family
• His Worship, the acting Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay
• Members of the Mayoral Executive Committee and his fellow councillors
• Municipal officials, staff and workers
• Reverend Xuku
• Leaders and ordinary members of the UDM
• People of Nelson Mandela Bay

1. A man who evoked emotion

William Shakespeare once wrote that: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”, in tandem with that, I also invoke a phrase Charles Dickens wrote which was “…we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

The late Mongameli Bobani was a man who was not afraid to act on that stage of public life and politics and he certainly had the capacity to evoke dichotomous reactions in people.

One thing is for certain, anyone who crossed his path had a strong opinion of him.

He was however able to make more friends than enemies. This is espoused in his social media, which showed thousands of messages of commiseration within hours as the news of his passing spread.

Even on my social media, after expressing disbelief of his passing, so many people said: “We will miss his tweets”. He had a way of expressing himself that was uniquely his own.

Once someone asked him on Twitter: “How exactly did you become mayor, if I may ask.” and he responded as follows: “Pure political mathematics, with a little bit of geometry (corresponding angles), not maths literacy Sis Pamela, pure maths, if you know what I mean.”

“Hit the ground running” had become his catchphrase.

His charisma, coupled with his never-ending smile and sense of humour, earned him great respect. He had a joyous way about him, and he did not mind sharing that joy.

But he could also be fierce when he was serious about a matter. Then you quickly had to forget that you both were laughing about a joke just a minute ago. And, as soon as the serious matter was disposed of, he would go back to cracking jokes.

2. A servant of the people

Whilst we are sad at his going away, we are here to also remember and honour his life and console his loved ones.

We are talking about a leader who derived pleasure from helping people. Even the way he contracted Covid-19 was a testimony to his desire to help, because he was busy doing exactly that when he became ill, he was working on the ground assisting with service delivery issues.

For almost seventeen years, he served as a councillor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and the role he played is well documented.

He honestly did not care where a citizen of this municipality lived; whether it be in a ward the African National Congress (ANC) or Democratic Alliance (DA) won in the election.

He just “hit the ground running” and asked for a reference number and tried to make your problem go away.

What we can learn from his style