Having lived a remarkably full life, one of Cape Town’s elders, Hadji Hoosain Dudukay, passed away on Sunday, at the age of 106. Affectionately known as “Abba” and well respected by his family and the Cape Town community, Hadji Hoosain departed just over a month short of his 107th birthday. Most Capetonians know him as ‘the grandfather’ of Good Hope Meat Hyper in Salt River.
Born in Khed, Ratnagiri, India in 1910, Hadji Hoosain has a colourful life story. Accompanied by his father, he arrived in South Africa at the tender age of 8. He received a formal education in Cape Town where he attended St Paul’s in Rondebosch.
After his school years, and as a young man, he worked at Duens bakery. Thereafter he managed a general store in Roodebloem Street, Woodstock for 25 years. In his early 30’s he married Latiefa Khatieb, and this union resulted in 6 children (4 daughters and 2 sons), and later 15 grandchildren and 21 great grand-children.
His children and grandchildren describe him as “a man of faith”, and even in his later years, he would wake every morning to perform his fajr salaah. Every Friday, he would attend the Jumuah salah at Masjidul Quds, always immaculately dressed.
Hadjii Hoosain was a man of few words, but when he did speak it was always with the sharpest wit. Despite his age, and the changes that come with it, he always wore a friendly smile, and had a pleasant demeanor.
Great granddaughter Aneesa Hoosain Dudukay said Abba had played an instrumental role as the patriarch of the family and would be sorely missed.
“He was such a wonderful person,” she said.
He was celebrated on his birthday each year, at a coming together of his closest family and friends, to honour his importance as the patriarch of the Dudukay family. He was loved by young and old, a testament to the love he exuded to those around him.
Hadjii Hoosain was an ardent fan of VOC’s Shafiq Morton, who was often invited to join in at his birthday celebrations. Abba had a standard rule that when Drivetime was on air, nobody was allowed to talk as it was “his show”.
“I have attended his birthday since he was 99. He just used to smile. He never said much,” said Morton.
“I made a brief tribute at his birthday last year, saying how privileged we were in his company. He had a great sense of humour and when I sat with him at the table he would grip my hand and call me, a white haired geezer, a “young man”.
“I have the fondest memories of him walking unaided into the surprise 100th birthday party his extended family had organized and standing up to greet people. He also liked Yusuf Fisher, whom he called a “lightie”. He was a lesson and inspiration to us all.”
TV broadcaster Faizel Sayed also had a special connection with Abba.
“I recalled visiting him on his birthday and asked him what he attributes his longevity to. He replied saying toast and peanut butter at 04:30 in the morning,” Sayed wrote on Facebook.
“I was inspired and amazed by his age, and his smile and excitement. He dressed up early that morning knowing the “TV People” were coming.”
His family said that when asked what his secret to longevity was, Hadjii Hoosain simply replied, “Allah knows best”.
His loved ones said Hadjii Hoosain died, as he had lived, “with the greatest of calm and peace, and in the most holy month of Ramadan”.
“Surely, Allah has favoured him, and we make dua that Allah grants him a high status in Jannatul Firdous InshaAllah Ameen. He will be dearly missed by family, friends and the Cape Town community,” said the Dudukay family in a statement. VOC