The dying young

I think we have all come to accept, albeit grudgingly that death lives among us.

Nonetheless death is not something we can truly reconcile ourselves to. We know inevitably it is an event that will happen.

Unless you are suicidal, most of us do not know when that time will come when we retire from the world and move on to the next if we are believers.

Death is often uninvited into our lives. It’s like that thuggish rogue who breaks into our hearts robbing us of our dearly beloved ones. It’s so final and irreversible which makes it even harder to deal with.

However, for me the most poignant deaths are those when people die in their youth. Somehow when someone dies in their old age you are comforted that they at least managed to live a full life. Painful as it may be, a life well lived can be celebrated even in death.

However, when someone dies in their youth it feels like an unfinished story. You are left wondering what more they could have done had they lived on to complete the narrative of their promising lives.

This weekend was no different as we learned of the passing of Simbarashe “Simba” Mhere taken at the fledgling age of 26. Simba has been known to many through his weekly appearances as one of the 11 stellar anchors in the lifestyle show Top Billing.

Despite being the longest running lifestyle programme of its kind having been on the screens since 1996, Top Billing has had its share of controversy as it espouses the lives of the rich, famous and shameless against the backdrop of opulent and luxurious surroundings.

To have your party, event, wedding or your home showcased on the show is truly a mark of having arrived in the new South Africa.

Moreover the show takes viewers beyond the borders of South Africa to exotic places far and beyond, places that are not reachable for ordinary citizens of South Africa.

This is where the show garners much of its criticism, that it is a slap in the face to the majority of South Africans who can’t afford to have that kind of lifestyle.

For the majority tinned pilchards are more attainable than salmon canapés. The only time many would ever foray into those statuesque homes is to clean them as many live in tiny matchbox houses.

Nonetheless it is clear that the lifestyle show thrives on feeding the aspirations of many who want to live that life and hopefully arrive in the inner social circles.

Simba too had arrived when he won the hotly contested 2010 Top Billing search for a presenter. He embodied the looks of a dapper gentleman with his imposing height and stature and chiselled good looks.

That smooth ebony complexion and velvety voice won him a huge female following as he graced television screens every week.

Zimbabwean-born to missionary parents he relocated to South Africa at the tender age of one, this young and vibrant man met his demise in a car accident on Saturday morning when his Mitsubishi collided with a VW Polo and Mazda on William Nicol.

His father was the only person to survive the carnage. Simba was en route to the OR Tambo International Airport.

For one who travelled so often, he did not know that this was going to be the last trip of his youthful life. His companion Kady-Shay O’Bryan (29) a journalist, blogger and mother of one, died in the accident. Industry was aflutter with rumours that the two were dating.

A rumour of the two debunked as fiction despite being photographed and seen together on several occasions. Simba was not married and is not known to have sired any children.

Gone so soon and so young the world will never realise the potential that this young man still had to offer. I never met him in my own personal capacity, but from what I keep hearing it appears that his warm and engaging personality on TV screens was genuine especially in an industry filled with flaky and fake personalities.

Adjectives like nice, gentle, incredible, fun loving, hardworking, humble have been used to describe this young man. For one so young he had surely started to paint a truly beautiful legacy of his life. Simba will be sorely missed. May his youthful soul rest in peace.

Sukoluhle Nyathi is the author of the novel The Polygamist. You can follow her on Twitter @SueNyathi

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