An example to emulate

Trevor Manuel, founding patron, Mitchell’s Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust

Faiez Dollie, founder of the Youth Unemployment Prevention Programme (YUPP), which later became the Youth Economic Participation Programme (YEPP), was a truly remarkable activist whose mission was to improve the lives of young people by creating opportunities for them (“Community activist mourned”, Plainsman, September 1).

I had come to know Faiez as an activist whom we loved because we recognised in him the best of what we would want to see in ourselves.

His mission, unashamedly, was to measurably improve the lives of young people by creating opportunities where none seemed to exist.

He set his sights on those who frequently appeared to have been forgotten by society, or by a part thereof – the community, the school, the sports club – Faiez was the champion of these forgotten people.

I had worked alongside Faiez on numerous initiatives to create opportunities for young people and I recall how we, together with the late Achmat Semaar and others, convened a massive education summit in Mitchell’s Plain in 2010. It was a hugely successful event and Faiez was part of its convening. We’ve never quite figured how – since he neither lived nor schooled in Mitchell’s Plain – he was such a huge part of the soul of what was organised there. Only a small part of this mystery is answered by the bond that was between Faiez and the late Achmat Semaar, who was the administrator of the ANC’s constituency office.

When we were establishing the Mitchell’s Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust a few years later and found that some principals were lax, it was Faiez who volunteered to visit the affected schools and convinced them to join the initiative. Nobody ever questioned either Faiez’s authority to interact or the purpose of his mission.

As a measure of the success of his relentless activism, I should share with you that the Bursary Trust has over the past decade assisted no less than 173 students from Mitchell’s Plain and surrounds to graduate from university in the fields of education, law, medicine, sciences and many more.

Faiez had all the attributes of a high quality activist, including vision, drive, energy, creativity, resilience, tirelessness, optimism, networks, trust and selflessness.

Without doubt, the life and work of Faiez Dollie answers each of these attributes easily. Let me say that I do not know what Faiez’s ideological bent was, how religious he claimed to be and I’ve never heard him repeat hollow slogans. Unlike some who can recite the political classics, have the right T-shirt for every day and know the slogans, Faiez was very different. Yet, he achieved so much more and when he got going to improve the lives of young people, he left no guesswork about the direction of travel.

Faiez fought a good fight, may he rest in peace and may we all try and emulate his example.

• Trevor Manuel, former Cabinet Minister and former ANC Member of Parliament for Mitchell’s Plain, was paying tribute to Mr Dollie at a virtual memorial service on Saturday September 11.