The Passing on of Vuyani Cyril Gamede, known to us as Stambu, this last Sunday 1st August 2021, came not only as a shock, but as a huge devastation to UCTABA family.

As amongst the pioneering UCT Black Engineering graduates, we remember Stambu for his unique feature, a practical approach in Engineering. We would be on holidays, Stambu would be attending classes, either for certification as a builder or boiler maker. His philosophy was, “you can’t lead what you do not know.” Back from the schooling days, at Vukuzakhe High, where I first met Stambu, he was this intelligent person. Top in class along with the late Alfred Xaba, another UCT alumnus. He would either be leading the pack in the entire school or definitely be amongst Top 3 achievers in a grade of about 400 scholars. His excelling in Math and Science subjects, led him into his studies of passion at UCT, where he acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He subsequently finished up with Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering. Years later he was to top this with Master’s Degree in Business Administration, also from UCT. These are some of his academic achievements, associating him with this institution.

We remember him also for love for his community at uMlazi, V-Section, in a location called kwaStambu. He would be having few of us glued around him, while skilfully telling interesting stories on the incidents from his area. His story telling would be flavoured with humour. He would share the thrives and unity of his community in a proud but enlightening manner. Amongst the unity effort he enjoyed talking about, was how the V-Section community rallied together to put an end on the notorious Gangster group, known as ‘amaHarangu’, who had been terrorizing the entire uMlazi Township with acts of criminality. We would all be giggling and smiling as he talked us through this heroism ordeal from his community. A hero himself in his own right and a humble achiever of note, he was named Stambu by his friends in appreciation of his passion for his roots. This nickname was accepted warmly by his community from kaStambu, who equally regarded him as a symbol of hope, a role model for this community. Despite the pain, we choose not to mourn, but celebrate his life. Stambu became a beacon of light to all those he touched. We want to remember him as the father of Black Engineering in South Africa.

This is because of his sterling achievements in this field, hardly chattered by blacks before. He chose to plough his knowledge and abilities back, not only for his family but for the benefit of all South Africans, with black people in the forefront of his endeavours. This is illustrated in his leadership as a founding President of the NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers), former President of SAIMech (South African Institute of Mechanical Engineering) and President of ECSA (Engineering Council of South Africa).His passion for education was deep. As a Chairperson of the Council for the University of Zululand (formerly known as oNgoye), he led and saw through the establishment of the Engineering Faculty for this institution, which is amongst the first to be introduced in a previously black University. We salute him for this. Our proposal is that the University Name this Engineering Building after him - In Honour of CV (Stambu) Gamede.

He has been a pivotal player on UCTABA along with his wife Mphamore, who is an Engineer herself. His latest contribution has been in the current UCTABA initiative on the establishment of UCTABA schools. Here he served as a member of the founding Task Force. We are poorer without his wisdom. His views were always clear on leadership. “We need qualified people to lead in their respective spheres of competency. You may not have people who know only a component of a system successful in leading a system.” These were Stambu’s views on leadership, especially at government.

A man of many talents, passionately in love with his people and his country, you would locate Stambu in the middle of a bush somewhere in the fields of Bloemfontein, enhancing his skills as a reservist soldier in the SANDF. Alternatively, he will be out flying aircraft somewhere, building his flying hours a qualified pilot. Personally, I have not only lost a fellow alumnus, but a friend, a brother and a role model whose vision was bigger than what could be imagined and in full match to his heart and love. A true and true inspiration. Certainly, I’m not alone in this. We got to talk a lot lately. He will always take my calls without any hesitation and say “Jazi leNgane” as he affectionately called me. Amongst the discussions we delved in was the repositioning of Engineering in relation to our national politics.

He held very interesting and progressive opinions on this. It’s a pity we can never build with him further on this ideal. We praise the all mighty for the time he gave us with him. We also thank the Gamede family for sharing him to serve our nation. UCTABA will not be the same without him. We ask for strength for his family, especially his wife Mpamori and their lovely daughter Neo, who is busy with her studies in Medicine.

We ask for Stambu’s wisdom to continue to embrace us even beyond his departure. May his spirit live on even beyond. May his passion for Engineering engulf us, especially the black youth of South Africa. We need the level of his capabilities and passion in the rebuilding of our country.

More than all, May his soul rest in eternal peace - Hamba Kahle Magadlela!

Ugadlile futhi wanemba njenge Qhawe. Kodwa-ke sithi Asiphelelanga. Isizungu sakho ngeke size siphele

Justice Luthuli – UCTABA President Aug.05, 2021