Sometimes something that is very sad is also very uplifting.
Last week, an 18-year-old South African woman, Ontlametse Phalatse, died in a Pretoria hospital. Shortly before, she complained to the driver of the taxi she was in that she was having difficulty breathing, and collapsed on the floor. She was rushed to a local clinic, then to a Pretoria hospital, where doctors could not save her.
Obviously, it is tragic that a young woman should die so young.
What is uplifting is that Ontlametse was the first black person to be diagnosed with a rare disease called progeria, which causes a person to age rapidly. On initial diagnosis, Ontlametse was told that she may see her fourteenth birthday, but wouldn’t live much beyond that. So, she outlived that prediction by four years.
It is how she lived her life that had such a huge impact on people. Not only did she accept that her life was going to be short, but she vowed to live it to the fullest. She used her celebrity status to get politicians to pay attention to the facilities of the school she attended; she provided sanitary pads to all the girls in the school, many of whom could not afford them; she became a motivational speaker, trying to encourage others who were suffering to take a positive view of the world; and she created a bucket list of things to do and people to meet.
It almost seems that her mind and wisdom also outran her age. She was wise beyond her years.
One item on her bucket list was to meet the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. She used the occasion to make him promise the he would ensure that his foundation would build her mother a house. She also received an invitation to be a Very Important Person at his 75th birthday party. She died just before that happened.
|With President Zuma|
One can only be moved at the courage of this young woman who was physically so different from all her school mates. One can only imagine how difficult that was for her. She once said “Beauty is not the appearance of someone but it is their personality and how they are on the inside as well as their heart.”
As one would expect, her funeral was a celebration of a remarkable life, with people from all walks of life paying her tribute.
For me, a Whatsapp message she sent to the principal of her high school sums up who she was: “Miss me a little and not too long‚ miss me but let me go.”
What a woman! What an inspiration.
Murder Is Everywhere
Author Recognitions and Events
Panel: The British Empire
(FYI- Sujata and I will be on the same panel!!!)
Janet Rudolph Literary Salon:
"The History of Hot Places: Clashes between Colonialism and Local Cultures”
Joint appearance with Michael Cooper
Murder in Saint Germain, Aimée Leduc’s next investigation, comes out June 6, 2017.
Paper back of Rat Run published 28th March.
"The Olive Growers,” appears in BOUND BY MYSTERY, an anthology edited by Diane DiBiasi celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Poisoned Pen Press, out in March.
Dying to Live (Kubu #6) to be released in May in UK & South Africa and in October in USA
Franschhoek Literary Festival (Michael).
Panel :One Voice, Two Authors with Alex Latimer and Diane Awerbuck 11:30 - 12:30
Panel: The Author as Chemist with Joanne Harris and Ekow Duker 11:30 - 12:30
Crimefest in Bristol UK (Stanley)
14:40 - 15:30: What Are You Hiding?: The Dark Side Of Human Nature
12:30 - 13:20: Panel: Power Corrupts: Who Can You Turn To?