Obs shopkeeper’s giving nature will live on

Ebrahim Shaboodien pictured with his wife Jamiela.

Ebrahim Shaboodien, the shopkeeper on the corner of Kipling and Dove streets, Observatory, passed away peacefully after a short illness borne with great dignity.

Mr Shabodien died on Thursday October 13 and was buried by Muslim rites on Friday October 14.

He was 85 years old, and spent his entire life behind a counter in his shop.

When the first salvoes of World War II were fired in 1931, Ebrahim saw the light of day in Cecil Road, Salt River. He was the eldest of five children; two brothers and three sisters.

His father died at an early age and Ebrahim took on the role as the father figure in the family. “He helped set me up in business,” says his youngest sister, Gadija Dalvie of Rondebosch.

Ebrahim’s father, Mohamed Alie Baloomia Shaboodien, who hailed from India, bought property on the corner of Kipling and Dove streets.

He settled in Cape Town in the mid 1920s and bought the corner shop in 1952.

Ebrahim, also known as Hadjie in the Islamic community, travelled once a year to India, where he also met his wife Jamiela Parker.

They were married for 65 years and had three sons and two daughters.

Ebrahim still has a sister, Fatima Mahadick, who lives in Sakhrol in the District of Ratnagirdi near Bombay.

Ebrahim was well versed in several languages; which included English, Afrikaans, Urdu and Marathi.

The culture of Ubuntu was entrenched in Ebrahim’s DNA; he helped hundreds of people in his immediate community and even as far afield as India.

One of our South African poets penned a poem Koep Oppie Boek in his narrative of District Six. Yet this was the daily norm for Ebrahim to help his fellow man and neighbours who had no money to pay for a loaf of bread and whatever else was needed to ensure that they didn’t go to bed on an empty stomach.

He had no guarantee that he would get the money back but he did not demand a promissory note or post-dated cheque, nor did he ask his neighbours to pawn their valuables in lieu of groceries.

He trusted and helped notwithstanding that invariably there were those who ran off without honouring their promises.

Not too long ago one of his neighbours asked him why he doesn’t add interest to outstanding balances like banks and all other business, Ebrahim responded that it is first of all not in his nature to do this and neither does his religion allow him to do so.

Ebrahim was a respected member of the community and will without a doubt be sorely missed for the calm and friendly manner in which he interacted with everyone who entered his shop.

He is survived by his wife Jamiela, three sons, two daughters, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Mr Jooste is a former press photographer and neighbour of the Shaboodien family.