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Lukhona Mnguni remembers the late Eusebius McKaiser with a heartfelt tribute

Dear Eusebius ‘Euby’ McKaiser, It is 23:57 and this day of 30 May 2023 is about to end. A day that will forever be synonymous with your departure from planet Earth. You are still an atheist wherever you are. You are stubborn like that.

I must now grapple with the idea of heaven without your challenging interventions about a God who lives and is omnipresent through the holy spirit, as we believers believe. This will remain one of your controversial areas of conversation. You pushed boundaries even during Easter weekend. How dare you!

Euby, what a gem of life you are. Stubborn in your truth, almost to a fault at times because many viewed you as intolerant of those who disagreed with you.

So robust you were, at times you stretched people’s imagination and settled only on the most cogent of narratives. Such was your contribution to the convivial conversations you held with us ordinary members of society.

You kept reminding us of both the mundane and the extraordinary. A debating club member who never wanted us to forget your exploits in that space. Yet, philosophy, law, morality, sexuality, and politics were the hills you were willing to die on.

Hours before your passing you posted your last TimesLIVE podcast, asking us: “Is there a viable alternative to the ANC?”

In a show of wit and dynamism, you delivered a 15-minute provocation. You were incisive, challenging opposition parties in South Africa. Effectively, you have left us with a line of marching orders towards the 2024 general elections.

You have inspired so many people, especially black people, to remember that excellence is possible and principle is essential. You paved the way for outsider intellectuals to make it into mainstream broadcasting.

The sound of your voice was important but your thoughts and intellectual gymnastics were more significant. You redefined talk radio. The trends are quite clear after your dominance at Radio 702, never mind your short-lived stance at Power 987.

You poured your heart out to some of us about these journeys. Those who worked with you also poured their hearts out about you—not always the most gentle, but always firm and striving for fairness. You were at times a difficult person to work with, but we all have our demons and blind spots.

Euby, where shall memories lead my thoughts? To our encounter at Edinburgh in 2015 when you introduced me to your partner Nduduzo and signed my copy of your book, Run Racist Run, chasing racism at the height of the Rhodes Must Fall movement, which later morphed into Fees Must Fall?

Shall I remember us in Durban during 2016 when you spoke at one of our events, challenging us on the role we have to play in society? Or shall I go to our last wholesome lunch on 11 April 2023 where we discussed our work, the country, the state of the media, and the big plans you had to grow your role at TimesLIVE?

Life remains senseless in its impromptu calling of some of the best minds and people to their final resting place. You were a champion of some of the most marginalised causes in our society.

You lived your gay love in the open with all its complexities. You did not evade your own truth as you confronted those in power with their prejudices.

You inspired many to ‘come out’. You led many to accept that transgender struggles are real, while the likes of Helen Zille texted senseless messages on social media. Stand on your throne.

You owned it and adorned it well. Kudos, you son of Kaiser.

Dear Euby, I am fragile because you were too. In private conversations you taught us fragility, intimacy, and downright gossip. Allow us the space to remember you.

You loved South Africa. You knew the power of your voice and how to use it to steer the country into thought-provoking debate. You appreciated ideas and consulted when you were unsure or sceptical.

Your integrity was everything. Even when you were wrong, you had the conviction of your beliefs.

The end is nigh for all of us. Your memory will be in our actions and how we respond to your last question to the country: “Is there a viable alternative to the ANC?” This is a generational question we must confront. I am so sorry you will miss the debates and robust conversation about South Africa’s democracy at 30 in 2024.

Rest easy, Euby.

Lukhona Mnguni is a political analyst and host of ‘On The Spot’ on eNCA.

By Editor