Farewell to Boeta Toyer, minstrel maestro

Mansoor Joseph, left, on stage with his late father, Toyer Joseph, right, during one of the many Malay choir competitions they participated in over the years.

Very loving, always with a smile on his face, always armed with something positive to say about the next person and never saying anything out of anger.

This is how 22-year-old Mansoor Joseph of Woodstock will remember his father Toyer Joseph who died over the weekend.

The minstrel fraternity and family of Boeta Toyer said their last goodbyes to arguably one of the most talented and musically gifted local icons, who was recently laid to rest.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Joseph family received the call from Groote Schuur Hospital with the devastating news that Boeta Toyer had passed on.

Two weeks ago the Tatler also paid tribute to another minstrel legend, Sulaiman “Boeta Solly” Abrahams, who died after suffering a heart attack at a fundraising event at the Wynberg (formerly Wittebome) civic centre, (“Sad farewell to a true minstrel legend”, Tatler, November 24).

Boeta Toyer underwent a successful hip operation on Friday December 2. He was kept in the recovery room for observation, but when he started struggling to breath, was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

On Saturday December 3, the family were notified that Boeta Toyer was having issues with his kidneys and lungs. However, it is believed that he had succumbed to a heart attack due to the pain that he had been suffering.

His wife, Shaheda, said: “I received a call from his friend to say that he had been moved from ICU to a normal ward. We went to visit him and he was fine, still speaking and greeted everybody around the bed. He did say that he was feeling a bit hot though, but nothing out of the ordinary.”

She added that her son received the call the following morning and she believed that her husband had suffered a heart attack due to the immense amount of pain he had been enduring.

“We are saddened by his passing, but Boeta Toyer always said to us that if he was to pass away one day, he did not want us to cry and be all sad, but he wanted us to be happy, just like he was,” she said, bursting into a smile.

Boeta Toyer was no slouch when it came to the minstrel game, mastering instruments such as the mandolin, banjo, guitar and bass guitar, almost always blowing away the crowd, leaving them with a beautiful memory of the minstrel maestro.

It was not just the minstrel and nagtroepe scene that people fondly remembered Boeta Toyer for, as there was hardly ever a prayer meeting he missed, often leading them and adding his own flair and vocal ability into the mix.

Mansoor is the youngest of his two sons, a chip off the old block, mastering the instruments just as his father had, but also dedicating a significant part of his life to prayer meetings.

“I learnt so much from my dad over the years. He introduced me to the minstrels and nagtroepe. I could sing something so perfect, but he always believed that I could do better. In everything we did, singing, recitals or just basic life, he always pushed us to do better and for that, I will always remember him for,” Mansoor said.

Boeta Toyer was the second eldest of four brothers, all involved with minstrels and nagtroepe from a young age – taking up leading roles in every practice or competition they performed in. It all started for Boeta Toyer back in the Oriental Singkoor days, as a young child, standing on a chair in the middle of the troupe, guiding the rest of the voices in the room.

“When I met Boeta Toyer, he was already so deep into it with his brothers, I could not change it. Over the years, I always supported him through this, never went with him, but I always supported him, because that is what he loved doing,” Shaheda said.

As the years went by, Boeta Toyer went on to represent the Good Hope Entertainers, became president and coach for teams such as the Signals Singkoor, Schotscheskloof Singkoor and in recent years, becoming the chairman of the V&A Minstrels, as well as assisting with the Young Zinnias and Strelitzia singkoor.

“He was always playing the leading role, trying to improve whatever he could. He wanted things to be perfect and people always spoke very fondly of him. He left a massive impression on people’s lives,” said Shaheda, who was married to Boeta Toyer for 37 years, before which they had dated for four years and been engaged for two and a half years.

“There is so much to remember about him. We are sad that we lost him, but he has left us with so many very good memories.”

Adding to his mother’s thoughts, Mansoor said: “He was loved by so many people and that was clear at his funeral. We are most certainly sad by this loss, but we are satisfied as a family. Despite it being a sad day for us losing our father, it was a happy day indeed as many positive memories were shared and these memories will forever be remembered.”

Messages of support poured in with Facebook being swamped with memories of this legendary figure.

Executive member for the District Six Entertainers, Kader Miller posted: “A Gentleman, a legend, Toyer Joseph. May Allah grant Our Brother a High a place in Jannah Inshallah. From all of us at Cape Argus D6 entertainers.”

The Happy Boys Entertainers posted: “May the Almighty grant Boeta Toyer Joseph, father of one of our group members, Mansoor Joseph, a high place in Jannah Ameen. We make Dua that ALLAH SWT place contentment in the hearts of his family and friends In Shaa ALLAH Ameen. – management and crew at Happy Boys Entertainers.”

Razeen Boltman posted: “Today we say farewell to a LEGEND boeta Toyer Joseph. May the Almighty grant him and all decease Janaah IA.May Allah put sabr in the hearts of the family and make it easy for them.”

Boeta Toyer was laid to rest at the Mowbray Cemetery on Sunday afternoon with the funeral leaving from his eldest brother’s house in Kenwyn.

He would have celebrated his 66th birthday on December 24.