Pastor Peter Mabasa, One of Life’s Beautiful People

04 Oct

Today I want to tell you about Pastor Peter Mabasa, a wonderful man whom we met in 2007 and whose death, far too young, we heard about yesterday.

In 2007, just as we retired, we went out to Mapoch, South Africa, as volunteers to help build a new classroom for the pre-school in the village. It was there we met Pastor Peter and we became good friends.  Peter had had a very hard life, living under Apartheid  suffering from all the mistreatment that that entailed and even when it was all over, still finding himself in a bad way and, ‘living under the bridges’ as he put it. Then he met another Pastor who helped him back to life and in time, Peter became the Pastor for the village where we found ourselves.

As soon as we met him, we shared laughter and over the days, as the work was done each day, we sat under the tree in the shade and had long, fascinating discussions about religion (Peter was an Apostolic Christian and we are Humanists) philosophy, corruption, crime and impoverishment. We shared ideas, quotations, and had lots of laughs. We discussed language, his and ours, each helping with vocabulary and pronunciation. He spoke five languages –IsiZulu, Ndebele, Tswana and Afrikaans as well as English! It was partly his knowledge of the local language and of English that led to him being appointed as ‘Site manager’,  translator and liaison between us and the local builders with whom we were working.

Pastor Peter and Mr S sharing laughs together

We have some lovely memories of Peter:

  • Mr S gave Peter his sun-hat; he was absolutely delighted and wore it every day we were there! At the end of our stay we also gave him one of the hard hats which we autographed for him.

Peter in Mr S’s hat and delighted with the toilet seat for the new latrines being built

  • Peter’s astonishment that we should share a bottle of coke with him was something we will both remember. Living under Apartheid, he was not used to being treated as an equal, as one human with another and he found it very moving that we should be so open and free with him.
  • We were invited to go to his Church to observe. This turned out to be a fascinating and very moving experience. Joining in the singing was wonderful with one of the older ladies showing me the words in the hymnbook. Because I had been trying to learn some of the language, I was able to read the Tswana and to join in the alto part, much to everyone’s surprise and pleasure, mine especially.
  • His introduction of us by our first names to his whole Congregation when he spoke so powerfully of meeting white people who were not the Boss and Madam of Apartheid times, through which many of the congregation had also lived, and who were not Christians but who were nevertheless good people who were his friends.
  • The children of the pre-school aged from 15 months to six years old adored him and he them.
  • We supported Pastor Peter with his very demanding and new role of Site Manager, for which he was extremely grateful and he kept telling us how happy he was to have us there. He made us feel very special. He made everyone feel very special.

Pastor Peter in his autographed hard hat

Without Peter there, the whole experience would have been very different. His ability to manage and negotiate with the builders was crucial to the success of the project. His open-mindedness and constant good humour were an example to all and the fact that we three got on so well made it a very rewarding time for each of us.

I once read that we do not ‘make’ new friends, rather, we recognise friends when we first meet them. Peter and we ‘recognised’ each other. We are so sorry about his untimely passing and send our love and condolences to his family, to his Congregation and to the whole village who will miss him, his laughter and his love so much.

Kagiso Pre-school, the original part, painted, the new classroom and our friends waving Goodbye

I’m sorry about the poor quality of the photos. I have had to take photographs from the diary I wrote at the time as all our photos of the time were lost when our computer crashed some time ago.


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15 responses to “Pastor Peter Mabasa, One of Life’s Beautiful People

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    October 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Blessings, blessings, to Pastor Peter (rip). Wow, this was solid, this one. The photos aren’t bad quality at all. They are as they be – & I could still see his lovely smile, joy. Why? Like, ‘why’ with some people in particular – do they go so soon?

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 9, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Sorry it was a bit heavy but that was what I had to do. I’ve had far fewer likes on that post. People like my upbeat stuff better! Thank you so much for your comments and understanding. 🙂

  2. dhphotosite

    October 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    A beautiful story indeed.

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      And a beautiful man whom we will all miss.

  3. valeriedavies

    October 5, 2012 at 7:47 am

    A lovely lovely story, it warms the heart to know of such goodness, and the precious memories you must have left people there of your time with them, are so inspiring too.
    You must be feeling rather sad…

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 5, 2012 at 8:51 am

      Thank you so much for your kind thoughts. Yes, I am feeling very sad as he had just finished his chemotherapy and the Doctors had said all was well. But the treatment had been stop and go as machinery broke down and the treatment had not been for him as it might have been. Apartheid has gone but things are not yet equal for all.
      Our memories of our time there and Peter’s hand in making it good, will stay with us and his legacy is huge. 🙂

  4. John Roberts

    October 4, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    What a moving and heartwarming tale.

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks, John. He was such a lovely man and will be sorely missed.

  5. Choc Chip Uru

    October 4, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Pastor Peter sounds like an incredible man – faithful, intelligent and awesome 🙂
    Thank you for writing of him my friend!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      You have caught his spirit exactly. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  6. Don

    October 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Wonderful story. It’s the “ordinary” people like Pastor Peter who have enhanced and enriched the life of our nation. The loss of people like him always leaves us the poorer. Must have been a wonderful experience for you.

    • mybeautfulthings

      October 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      You are right about the ‘ordinary’ people. We did have an amazing time – hot, hard work, very moving and very satisfying. 🙂


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