Vhutsilo Masibigiri
3 min readSep 9, 2023
Vee Masibigiri thinking about life

Sometimes it takes someone to die for people to start appreciating them

A tribute to my aunt Vho-Kati

I attended my aunt’s funeral in the first week of June 2023. It was a beautiful send-off with lots of people attending. It was easy and obvious to see that she was loved and supported. There were lots of speeches, dancing and singing. Most of the speakers spoke of her love, generosity, love of God, prayer, and her love for people. It was one of those funerals that you listen to the speeches, and you feel proud.

I remembered all the love, the generosity and love for others that was spoken about. And it was all true. And there is one thing that I remember about my aunt that was not spoken about in the funeral. My aunt was smart. If she had grown up in the city, I am sure, they would have called her ‘street smart’ or ‘streetwise’, and she was life smart. I guess growing up in the village, it limits one in terms of showing the street smartness. Even my grandma knew that Kati was smart. If there was someone who could outsmart her, it was Kati- as she affectionately called her. My aunt had street-smartness in bucket loads.

After the funeral, when all was said and done, I stood there with one of my cousins just to reflect on the day. We reflected on the day….the turnout….the speeches, and more. My cousin was sad that she had just lost her mom-my aunt. As she was reflecting on the loss of her mother, she also reflected on the loss of her ancle-my father. She said, “My uncle was smart and most people misunderstood him when he was alive. They thought he was reading too many old newspapers. But now that I am looking back at the things he was saying, I can see he was way ahead of time”. As she said that, I remembered my dad in that moment. My father was smart. He was a brilliant researcher and analyst. He could easily give a political, economic, financial and life analysis from what he had read from the newspapers and listened to on the radio. He was able to see the ANC go down this path long before we knew there was state capture. He was way ahead of his time… a futurist.

This reflection from my cousin made me think. I was thinking of my aunt and how smart she was. Are people going to realise that she was a few after years after she is gone. This reflection is coming 11 years after my father has left this world. Now, I am thinking, this smartness must be in the genes. It must be my grandma’s genes. And I need to claim mine while I am still young.

My question is, why do we not always see the value in someone while they are still alive and celebrate it? Why does it take us a few years to reflect on or realise someone’s value? For my aunt, and all the qualities that were spoken about in the funeral….love, hard work, generosity, love of God and prayer, and from me, your street smartness and life smartness that was unmatched. Aunty, you were enough to all of us, and more. Rest in peace. I am sure, you, your sister and brother will find a few things to laugh about. And for us who are left behind, I wish we could have the courage to learn from your lives and take the best of each one of you. Rest in peace Kati Vho-Elisa Elelwani Mphanama. You were a force to be reckoned with. This is my way of saying, I love you.

Vhutsilo Masibigiri

Speaker, Writer, HR Consultant with over 25 years of work experience. She is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategist, and writes for Diversity SA