A true ‘South African Indian Delight’ by Goolam Vahed & Selvan Naidoo, followed by a Radio interview transcript of Zuleikha Mayat by Sameema Mayat & Aslam Mayat

On the front pages of Zuleikha Mayat’s iconic book, “Indian Delights” reads a dedication that says, “This book is dedicated to all the husbands who maintain that the best cooking effort of their wives can never compare with what ‘mother used to make’.” Clearly this clarion call to improve the cooking ability of the legions of wives, both young and old, has been resoundingly rewarded when one considers the mountain of copies Indian Delights has sold here in South Africa and worldwide. Indian Delights, a book on Indian cookery remains the best selling book of any genre through out South Africa, selling well over 500 000 copies. This bold claim is verily supported by the fact that this book remains well replenished on many bookstores some 58 years since it was first published in 1961.

unnamedThe ability to cook well for ones family remains a craft that when perfected brings joy that is beyond sensory. Precious mealtime with family during each day or during family gatherings on special occasions remains locked in our hearts for eternity. These times are made even more special when people remember how well mum prepared those delightful meals. It is no surprise to know that Zuleikha Mayat’s Indian Delights has effortlessly spared the blushes of many mothers in ensuring the smiles of their families during mealtime.

More than just a cook or an award-winning author of culinary books, Zuleikha Mayat’s life’s journey remains an inspiration to all South Africans. This Saturday past saw Iqraa Trust honoured a sprightly 93-year-old Zuleikha Mayat. Mayat was born in Potchefstroom in 1926 and completed Std. VI at the local Potchefstroom Indian Govt. School. She was determined to further her education and completed the Junior Certificate and Senior Certificate via correspondence through Union College, passing with an exemption from the Joint Matriculation Board in 1945. Mayat had to abandon her dream of becoming a doctor but did short courses in Journalism. She married Dr G.H.M. Mayat in 1947 and moved to Durban where she made her mark in a number of fields.

Zuleikha with her husband Dr G.H.M. Mayat 

Mrs Mayat was a founding member of the Women’s Cultural Group in 1954. This was a remarkable development in a society that was very conservative with regard to the involvement of women in the public sphere. Though membership comprised predominantly of Muslim women, the group’s membership was open to women across race, class and religious boundaries and did include women across race and religious boundaries, including African, European (White), Hindu, Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian members. The Group has proven to be a leader in many fields. It has acquired an international reputation for its iconic Indian Delights series of cooking books, which includes Indian Delights 1stt edition 1961; Enlarged Indian Delights: 2nd edition: Super Indian Delights, now in its thirteenth impression; Best Of Indian Delights: Companion to Indian Delights (1988); and Treasury of South African Indian Delights (1999).



Incredibly and unknown to many people, funds generated from book sales are used to provide bursaries to needy students annually, run soup kitchens for the poor, provide sandwiches to schoolchildren weekly, blankets to the poor in Winter, host educational lectures, empower women (the likes of Minister Naledi Pandor amongst high profile South Africans who have inspired other women), host cultural events such as poetry recitals and develop programmes to upgrade the skills (such as sewing programmes) of disadvantaged women in particular. The bursary programme of the Women’s Cultural Group has been instrumental in helping countless students complete their education in a country where access to quality education comes at a high price.

The loss of her husband and sister in the same car accident in March 1979 (partly because when they could not be treated at a nearby “white” hospital, only to be taken to a hospital for Blacks a long distance away) did not stop Mrs Mayat’s public and community work. If anything this seems to have spurred her on, and she plunged herself community work and extended her activities. The death of Mrs Mayat’s husband brought her into contact with Rivonia trialist and then Robben Island prisoner Ahmed Kathrada, who wrote a letter of condolence to Mayat’s brother Abdulhak “Bis” Bismillah, a former flat mate of Kathrada. This initiated a decade long correspondence with Mayat. The 75 letters exchanged between Kathrada and Mrs Mayat focus on culture, politics and religion and were published as a book in 2009: Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn: The letters of Zuleikha Mayat and Ahhmed Kathrada 1979-1989. The work has been very well received and is read internationally, and has been instrumental in making many people aware of the injustices and effects of apartheid on a day-to-day level.


Mrs Mayat was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Social Science by the University of KwaZulu Natal in 2012. As a founding member of the Women’s Cultural Group, as author, and as public activist, Mrs Mayat has played a vital role in creating public awareness about a issues ranging from education to culture to religion, spear-heading various noble projects aimed at assisting the disadvantaged, uplifting the wounded spirits of her countrymen and women, and seeking to empower women in a society in which they are often subjected to double and triple forms of oppression because of their race, class and gender.

Zuleikha Mayat

In paying tribute to his mother at the Iqraa Trust function, Aslam Mayet said, “To shamelessly plagiarise Iqraa Trust’s motto ‘Life is NOT measured by what you OWN, BUT what you can DO for OTHERS’. Zuleikha Mayat’s life or more accurately many lives is the epitome of this motto.

Our epic journey ends with a story that best encapsulates this motto. A young Hindu Information Technology employed young man, visiting from London called us to relate his life journey. When his father died, his mother had to bring up 5 children, all-living in Chatsworth. With no means she cooked on the primus stove at home using Zuleikha Mayat’s Indian Delights as her only reference. He & his siblings delivered this food to people to make a living. That income saw all of them through university. All of them are successfully employed overseas. He just had to meet and take a ‘selfie’ with this woman to whom his family owed so much!

Mums inspirational speech was about rising up to challenges placed in the days of your life. Unlike many widows, her life did not end when her husband died 40 years ago on 1 April 1979. She took stock, faced the challenge and strode forward valiantly.  If Islam demands a full and middle path balanced life, Zuleikha Mayat has lived this statement beyond reproach. A true South African Indian Delight.”

Written by Selvan Naidoo & Goolam Vahed




Radio Islam Interview By Sameema Mayat & Aslam Mayat



As salaamu alaikum, warahmatulahi wabarakatu.

Shameema Mayat was filling in for ABIE DAWJEE SHOW  from Radio Islam studio

Shameema :Mrs Mayat your grandfather was born in Dhabel, Surat district, in Gujerat. Tell us about life in your ancestral village, how Dada arrived here, what he did after arriving in Durban, until he ended up in Potchefstroom, once the capital of the Boer Transvaal Republic.

Zuleikha: My forebears were farmers. The policies of, and taxes levied by, the British colonialists destroyed the local economy (including textile and farming) resulting in many youngsters leaving the village. Dada, an orphan, and his friends had left for the promise of a new life where gold rush was in full swing. Aged 16 he arrived in Durban where he worked for a year before heading for Transvaal. He paid for his journey by working as the assistant to the coach driver looking after the horses and passengers. He made it to Charlestown where he worked for a Muslim family for a year before repeating the second half of the journey to Johannesburg.

Shameema: Your book the History of Gujerat traces the origins of the Muslim Gujeratis from India to SA. OK, so Dada is in now in Egoli to make his fortune. Then what ?

 Zuleikha: The Mias and Gardees, also from Dhabel, had arrived much earlier and already had thriving businesses. As is common they provided a support structure for their kinsfolk. My Dada hawked with goods given to him on credit by the Mias and Gardees. A friend had had enough of this tough, lonely life and returned to Dhabel. My Dada replaced him in Potchefstroom hawking goods to the outlying farms on donkey cart.

Often the Afrikaaner men would be away, some fighting against the British. The wife would let my Dada sleep in the barn and give him a fowl to slaughter. The boere were illiterate and could not count so the wife would bring the chamber pot full of money, which was kept under the bed and give it to the Arabeer (they did not call Muslims coolies, but Arabs because of their dress) to simply take whatever was due to him. Such was the trust amongst people those days.

Shameema: Was your father born in Potch ?

 Zuleikha: My father aged 5 came to SA with his step mother. My father worked in the shop. He married his cousin in Dhabel. My eldest sibling was born in India and she came with my mother to Potch. My mother Amina was in purdah, but when she realised that she was needed in the shop, she cast it aside. Her popularity was such that soon the customers called the shop “Mina’s se Winkle”, instead of Dhabel House.

 Shameema: Mina being short for Amina.

 Zuleikha: Precisely. My father graduated to a bicycle, which allowed him to get to further outlying farms more quickly. But he came back home with blisters on his bum.

Aslam: The Anglo Boer war, the British concentration camps, and resultant depression left the Afrikaaner farmers impoverished. That must have affected the family business.

Zuleikha: Goods were sold on credit and payment after harvest. If harvest was bad there was no money and the customer had to be carried until things improved. At one stage the family business went insolvent.

 Aslam: It is no longer possible to physically discipline a child, because it leads irreparable emotional scarring.

 Zuleikha: Being children of the community, any elder could smack a naughty child. Some fathers would tell the ustad “the flesh is yours the bones are mine”. Often this was taken literally.

Shameema: There was an occasion when your cousin and his friends stole sweets from a Chinaman shopkeeper.

 Zuleikha: The Chinese gentleman reported to my grand uncle, who tied my cousin in a sack and lowered him down the well in the family compound, until the water was right up to his neck. His wife and son screamed for mercy. My grand uncle relented only when he felt the lesson had been well and truly learnt.

 Aslam: No pun intended on “well and truly”. The best friend and mentor of you and your sisters was the Chinese neighbour, Pengy. Your sister Bibi was the cleaver one. An English lady took her home. Bibi also stood trial for theft aged 10.

 Zuleikha: We often grew close ties with our customers. Despite apartheid, on a personal level friendships even grew. One customer who would often drop in our home at the back of the dukan. On one visit she saw that my mother was not coping with the brood of kids. For a month she took Bibi to her home to play with her own daughter for the day and brought Bibi back in the evening. We kids all helped in the dukan. An Afrikaaner mother and son accused Bibi of giving short change. It was clearly a set up, assuming that because Bibi was a child my father would concede and pay them more to avoid the embarrassment. Bibi was strong headed and adamant. My father backed Bibi and the matter went to trial. For an hour the prosecutor threw money at Bibi to count and give the correct change. Because of Gujerati school we kids knew our tables. Bibi was faultless. The White boy kept looking at his mother each time a question was put to him. Bibi was found not guilty in a White Court.

Shameema: Schooling was a challenge in the platteland, especially for girls.

 Zuleikha: Potch needed a Gujerati teacher. A strictly observant Hindu was brought in. He stayed with us and my mother cooked his meals in separate utensils to avoid cross contamination of his vegetarian diet. Potch school went only to standard 6. My brothers were sent away to study matric and one brother qualified as a doctor. No one, not even extended family, would ever take a female. Girls had to be looked after by their own parents. I finished matric by correspondence.

Aslam: Your semi autobiographical book a Treasure Trove of Memories tells the collective history of Indians in Transvaal dorpies from arrival in SA, to the birth of our rainbow democracy through your eyes, using your family as a typical Transvaal Muslim family. The guest speaker at the launch was Dr Manto Tshabalala, then Deputy Minister of Justice.

 Shameema: Let leave the boring stuff aside. Yours was a love marriage, revolutionary at the time because in your family marriage was between cousins only. At worst within the same gaam. But you sister Bibi married a Durbanite doctor and you followed her.

 Zuleikha: My brother brought his fellow medical students home on weekends, including Mohammed Mayat. The friendship grew from there and we exchanged letters. His interest was perked further by my letters published in the Indian Views, a Durban paper widely read in SA and in other African countries. The editor Moosa Meer was the father of Fatima Meer.

Shameema: In one of your husband’s letters he advised you to use acne cream. What a romantic ! I am surprised you stuck with him. Was life in the big city of Durban any different ?

Zuleikha: Mahomed was forthright, never avoided speaking the truth. Durban was conservative where I learnt of differences between Memons, Surtees and so on. Us and them. Here the mother in law ran the household and the daughters in law were bored. A group of friends formed the Women’s Cultural Group. We decided to publish a small cook book to raise funds. Despite the scepticism from our businessmen we used their contacts to get 60 day credit from the publisher. We paid the publisher inside 30 days. That was the first Indian Delights. The rest is history.

 Shameema: Book sale proceeds go to a capital fund for loan bursaries for tertiary students  from all races and religions. Last year WCG gave R1 million loan and zakaat bursaries. Would you agree that the torching of universities has something to do with education, accommodation, food etc all free, with no obligation to pay anything back to society.

Zuleikha: Certainly. Charity must NOT create dependency but must empower and UPLIFT. Our generation got no handouts, yet ML Sultan, WCG and many others ploughed back to lift their communities and the other South African as well. That is the true essence of Islamic belief.

(Aslam – After qualifying many bursars have to be chased to pay back R500 a month, even though they have bought a home and gone on overseas trips. 2 incidents by African Christian bursars bear mentioning. After qualifying one sent a pen, which when you run it over recites the text of the Holy Quran. Another many years after qualifying sent a donation saying here help another student).

Shameema: What did Mahroom Moulana Yunus Patel tell you about Indian Delights ?

 Zuleikha: At our first meeting he wryly said “previously the bride was given the Holy Quran, now she is given Indian Delights”. My rejoinder was “Maulana, is that a compliment or a criticism ?”.

(Aslam – I read messages from of WCG members:

Zarina Moolla – “We do not rely on public donations, but raise money from the sales of Indian Delights. Yet we are transparent. The money we earn belongs to Allah and we owe it ourselves to be seen to be doing right”.

Sarah Simjee – “Our mentor Mum installed old fashioned virtues in us. Although none of us ladies get paid for the enormous amount of work we put in, at our group meetings, we either bring and share or pay for meals.”

Fathima Patel – “At our fund raising functions WCG ladies have to bring deserts, set up, serve the guests and clean up, yet each of us still has to purchase a ticket to get in. Mum believes if you do the small things right, the big things take care of themselves”.)

Shameema: What were your hobbies.

Zuleikha: Tennis, swimming, riding horses, fishing, reading and writing.

Shameema: Behind every successful man is a woman. But you were empowered by your husband.

Zuleikha: My husband was unique. Well ahead of his time. He gave me every encouragement to spread my wings. We went everywhere together, lectures, cinema etc. Orient Club was a Muslim male preserve. My husband took me there as the sole female. Later myself and 2 other Muslim ladies were invited when they had White guests who came with their wives.

Shameema: Tell us about Women’s Cultural Group.

Zuleikha: Very early on WCG, although comprised largely of Muslim had ladies, had all races and religions. Hindus, Parsees, Christians, Africans and Whites. Sadly these days it is only Muslims. Over the years we WCG has done many things. Mushiras – from overseas Maharul Qadri and of course my mentors Farooqi Mehtar and Safee Siddiqi under whose guidance I wrote urdu poetry under the pen name Fehmida.

 Aslam: The legendry Safeesaap wrote the world famous Allah hu.

Zuleikha: WCG ladies produced and acted in 2 all female Gujarati plays.  WCG had a Golf Day 30 years ago. Cake sales and fetes. They call them souks these days. So popular these Days. Been there done that. Demonstration of Indian and Zulu culture with Prince Buthelezi as the main guest. WCG ladies visited Kwa Mashu to meet up with our African members, like Albertina Nguni, to look at their crèche and hand over a donation. Talks – by Fatima Meer and Saths Cooper. Many overseas guests like architect Yakub Zaki, controversial Yusuf Perdue, Judge Zafrullah Khan, and Saleha Mahmoud, editor of Islamic journal Jeddah.

Shameema: Saleha’s daughter Huma Abedin was right hand aide of Hillary Clinton.

 Aslam: Yusuf Perdue was a closet Bahai and Zafrullah Khan the UN Judge who gave South West Africa to South Africa.

 Zuleikha: Fashion shows which led to my book Nanima’s Chest, which was a collection of the dresses and textiles of the community, lost lying unused in cupboards. The book intended to preserve and record these fabulous garments, and to popularise it so that our younger girls took pride in wearing them. These days the Arab black abaya is popular, or Western garments at weddings, and our Indian garments and shawls are again fading away. Comics like Jayloshnie, Muthu Murugan, Afzal Khan and Tash the Bash. WCG was on tasting panels like the annual Bunny Chow contest at the Lugs. Mali Dinner to raise funds to preserve the Muslim literature in Mali. Guest speaker was Fariel Haffajee, then editor of Mail & Guardian. Dinner to raise funds for the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation with Leila Khaled as the main speaker. At this function we honoured the wives of our MK operatives. WCG made written representation to the Law Commission on MPL and was admitted as a friend at the Constitutional Court.

Aslam: Professors Weitzen & Goolam Vahed wrote a book commissioned by the Human Sciences Research Council on the then 55 year rich and varied history of Women’s Cultural Group.

Shameema: You and husband Mohammed stayed a year in London.

 Zuleikha: Because of apartheid Mahomed could not specialise in SA so we left our 3 little kids with my sisters in law. Mahomed specialised in gynae and obstetrics. Whilst there I did courses in journalism and Islamic Studies at University of London.

Aslam : At the airport in Nigeria you had an interesting experience.

Zuleikha: My husband had a zest for life and dragged me into his escapades. Nigeria had newly got independence so we wanted to visit. Because of apartheid South Africans could not get visas to African countries. Mahomed tried his luck at the airport whilst we were in transit. The officials would not budge. He said he was going to the toilet. After half an hour the officials became concerned, then alarmed, then threatened lock me up, even though I was genuinely worried at his disappearance. In the meantime he had sneaked into an office took out a telephone directory and randomly phoned Ministers of Govt. He explained to the first one he got that we blacks under the yoke of apartheid were proud of their independence and wanted to visit a free African country. Eventually Mahomed smilingly returned and told the officials to call the Minister. As soon as they did, their entre demeanour changed from outright hostility, to fawning servility. Was I furious when we got to a hotel room. But that daring charm was par for the course during our wonderful marriage. And I could never be mad for long.

 Aslam : You and your husband were denied passports, but allowed out to attend medical conferences, which was grudgingly given to avoid international repercussions.

Zuleikha: Yes we repeatedly used that excuse to visit then far flung countries like Russia and Japan. Those travels with Mahomed culminated in the book Binte Batuti.

 Aslam : Which means daughter of Ibn Batuta, the traveller greater than Marco Polo. Your political involvement was peripheral.

 Zuleikha: In the early years WCG did not get involved in politics, but I did in my personal capacity. I worked with Black Sash. Mary Grice was a member of WCG and Black Sash. Mahomed delivered the children of Prince Buthelezi. Whenever he visited we could not stop our Alsatian from barking at this black. (Aslam – We have a message from Prince Buthelezi and I quote “In those days black people were not allowed to stay at hotels in South Africa. I remember the number of happy occasions that my wife Irene and I stayed over at their home to enjoy the hospitality of our friends Zuleikha and Mahomed.”) Ismail & Fatima Meer – were our close friends, and my mentors. If Fatima knew you she would drag you into her affairs. And so it was with me. The Meers were under surveillance and needed safe houses. As a result Mandela slept overnight a few times at our home. Mahomed would pick him up and drop Nelson off in the morning at a nearby garage. When Mosie Moola escaped from prison our home was raided in the wee hours, but luckily only our family was at home. Black Ladies Federation with Fatima Meer and Winnie Mandela. Fatima Meer and I were on the parents committee during the UDW student boycott. The students were led by ex Constitutional Judge Zak Yacoob.

Aslam : Betty Shabbazz, better known as Mrs Malcolm X visited our home. You took food for detainee students.

Zuleikha: It was not permitted, but I insisted saying that as a Muslim I was not permitted to eat if my fellow Muslims were hungry. Because it was Ramzaan, the commandant relented. With the food I packed Quranic Lights book for each. The Afrikaaner commandant said literature was not allowed, and what use is this Bible because they are all Kommunists. I sweetly replied all the more reason they need to read it. This is how the students got the iftaar meal and Quranic Lights, a compilation of verses from the Quran with English translation. It was published before our youngsters in the Muslim community had become as conscious of their deen.

Shameema : Talking of prisons you visited Robben Island and was friend of Kathy.

Zuleikha: Shameema, I visited Robben Island with you and Aslam to attend the world launch of the Free Marwan Barghouti and all political prisoners by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. My friendship with Ahmed Kathrada began when he wrote a letter to my brother Abdul Haq to pay condolences on the death of his friend Mahomed. My brother lived in Canada and my mother said that I must respond. That began a 10 year correspondence. When Professors Weitzen & Goolam Vahed stumbled over it during their study of WCG they insisted that these letters be published and they compiled the book “Dear Zuleikhabhen, Dear Ahmedbhai”. My letters were the uncensored ones I wrote and Kathy’s were the censored ones that came to me. I first met Kathy with Aslam in Victor Verster prison.

 Aslam: Tell us about the death of your husband.

Zuleikha: My husband attended a synthesis meeting with the likes of van Zyl Slabbert. These talks eventually led to the progressive Whites reaching out to ANC culminating in the famous meeting in Zambia with the exiled ANC delegation of Tambo, Mbeki, Hani, Mac Maharaj and Pallo Jordan. After the conference we drove to Potch with my sister Bibi and my niece to meet my brother Abdul Haq down from Canada. On the way a drunk driver drove into us. Mahomed and Bibi died and my niece and I survived with broken hips and leg. Mahomed was fair with green eyes and looked European. The ambulance driver wanted to take us to the nearest white hospital because Mahomed was dying of loss of blood. But when he reported that there was a coolie maisie, he was ordered to take us to the much further black Leratong Hospital. Your father who dedicated his life to saving others did not survive the journey.

Aslam: Mahomed and you pushed the envelope.

Zuleikha: After Yusuf Ally, Muhammad Asad was one of the better English translations of the Holy Quran. My husband and I were part of a group that promoted Asad’s Quran. It was deemed controversial because of a footnote and there was the usual drama locally. On a visit overseas we saw the moving film The Message about the life and message of our Prophet (s.a.w.). We just knew that our local Muslims had to see it. Local agitation led to the film being banned here.

Aslam: In keeping with Islamic beliefs the Prophet is neither seen nor heard in the film. The same applied to his wives, his daughters, his sons-in-law, and 4 rightly guided Caliphs. The story is seen through uncle Hamza (played by Anthony Quinn) and adopted son Zayd. This epic historical drama directed by Moustapha Akkad, was approved by Al Azhar in Egypt, but denounced by Muslim World League in Saudi Arabia.

 Zuleikha: I have long advocated that our musjids in town should have a place for  working women to pray, instead of shopping or walking around in their lunch breaks. My dear friends Korshid Nadvi, Manum Motala and Fatima Meer once read namaaz at the back with the shoe racks of Westville musjid. The response came from the Imam through the grapevine that our nammaz was not valid and we would have to read it again.

Aslam: If you meet the Maulana tell him at 94 you still keep all your fasts. WCG ladies have made the Majlis hall of fame. This family audience precludes me from repeating his flowery description. Inspite of your antics you retained excellent relations with some alims.

 Zuleikha: When Maulana Yunus Patel started his girls adrassah he needed an English teacher. I gave him a qualified teacher, Shameema Mayat who taught there without pay for 8 years. Maulana Ansari – was very wise and open minded. I have a picture of him at West Street musjid with us WCG ladies handing over a donation to the Blind Society. Dhabel hosts 1 of the 3 great darul Ulooms in India. With Shameema and Aslam, I was given an audience with the principal. The 3 of us also visited Nadwat (alma mater to Prof Salman Nadvi) where we had a private audience with the principal.

Aslam : Tell us about your husband’s work starting with Shifa Hospital, recently so tragically in the news.

 Zuleikha: SHIFA HOSPITAL was founded by Drs Mayat, Motala & Khan to provide quality service to Blacks. Indian matron and nurses of all races given equal pay. Hindus Doctors Thangavelu and Harie became partners later. At the opening Muslim, Hindu, Christian & Buddhist prayers were read. In the early days I supervised the food, laundry & other housekeeping. Aslam did holiday work on the switchboard. TROIKA – was a formidable property company for the Indian community which Mohammed and his brother Yusuf ran with their Gujerati partners, Bhoolas and Desais.  My husband and I were part of a group that collaborated with Professor Ismail Farooki of USA in getting Salman Nadvi and Habib ul Haq Nadvi from America to start up the Islamic Studies Department at UDW. The committee raised funds from the community so that the Nadvi’s salary was equal to that of the higher paid white professors. Mayat family donated to put up the UDW musjid. My brother in law Yusuf was in charge and I worked with the architect on the design. I worked with Pat Poovalingum at Friends of SA – which dealt largely with TB. I worked with Cassim Bassa at the Blind Society. ALBARAKAAdvocate A B Mohamed proposed and Jackie Paruk supported my appointment to the Board of the Bank as the sole female. This continued well into the reign of current CEO Shabbir Chohan.

Shameema – WCG adheres to corporate governance. We have a constitution, elections held annually. Our educational Trust is a registered PBO. To raise our standards and ensure transparency we have taken on the Education Trust Board a lawyer Aslam Mayat and an accountant Shabir Chohan.

Aslam – I read from a July 2019 tweet from Shabir Chohan CEO of Albaraka Bank – “Attended 47th AGM of WCG Educational Trust. Impressed with professionalism and high quality meeting. Annual financial statements tabled within 3 months of year end. All NGO’s to aspire to such high standards”.

Zuleikha:WCG partnered with Albaraka to launch the Bux-Judge Zondo charitable Trust. IQRA – Mahmood Baker gave me every support as the sole female on Iqra Charitable Trust board until my recent retirement.

Aslam – Iqra gave you a right royal retirement party.

Shameema: Has your activism stopped post apartheid and in old age ?

 Zuleikha: I have been involved in Palestinian protests with Ela Gandhi, Paddy Kearney, Fawzia Peer, Logie Naidoo and others. WCG partnered with the Palestine walk For Freedom at Kings Park Stadium. WCG hosted the Orthodox Jews for Justice in Palestine. Currently I am a patron of the Active Citizens Movement. I spoke with Dr Albertina Luthuli (daughter of Nobel Laureate Albert) to drop charges against Pravin Gordhan. Incidentally Pravin worked as a chemist for my husband and his partners at their surgery in Albert Street. I spoke with Judge Thumba Pillay and Prof Jerry Coovadia at City Hall at the Rohingya protest march. I attended the event in Johannesburg when Minister Lindiwe Sisilu declared Kolved House a national monument. This is the famous flat of Ismail Meer where Mandela, Kathy and others met. This year aged 94 I marched at the anti CAA protest at the beachfront. I would urge our intellectuals and leaders to get more involved in activism and less time on whats app.

 Shameema: Last year you received an award from GOPIO, where you gave an inspiring talk criticising the departure from democratic norms and ethos in India. We are used to calling you Mrs Mayat, but you are a doctor.

Zuleikha: I received an Honorary Doctorate in Sociology from UKZN.

Aslam: Your acceptance speech at the graduation ceremony was highly acclaimed, even by the students. If Islam demands a full and middle path balanced life, Zuleikha you observed that. A true Indian Delight.

Shameema: Prof Betty Govinden wrote award winning Sister Outsiders – a collection of Indian South African Women writers, profiling yourself, Fatima Meer and Dr Goonam. You latest book is imminent.

Zuleikha : My book Odyssey of Crossing Oceans is with the printers. It traces the crossing of the Arab dhows down the Western coast of India to Malabar and Sri Lanka. From India the kala pani was again crossed to other distant lands. The book encompasses the triumphs and tribulations in each country of the odyssey, but with the focus on South Africa. See each of you at the launch.

Shameema: Message from WCG member Ayesha Vorajee – “Mum for heaven’s sake print the book. You are so engrossed that you have suspended our weekly tafseer classes”. Mrs Zuleikha Mayat, what can you tell us in conclusion.

Zuleikha: Shameema, you mentioned philanthropist ML Sultan. WCG has its offices at Mariam Bee Sultan Centre, one of the many legacy buildings of the Sultan Charity. Recipes to Indian Delights came from the community, which supports our functions. Whilst we take pride in our contribution we must never forget that no one is an island. We need each other, whether it is family or community. That teaches us to always be humble and make shukr to Allah for our blessings.

Aslam: Fabiayi alahi rubiku ma tukazibaan.

 Zuleikha : Live every moment of your life to the fullest. Love all humanity. Above all stay true to yourself.

Shameema: Ameen. To Northern Light up the end of your tunnel, Abie is back next week. With whatever time is available Aslam will read out some of the messages.

Advance Messages

SHERBANU BUX – “It is almost surreal that after an exhausting road I will be completing my studies this year. My sponsors WCG has no idea what this means to me and my family”.

AKHTAR DAWOOD – “WCG generosity in helping fund my studies has opened up opportunities for me. May Allah give WCG the strength to carry on the good work.”

Interview ends.


  1. My family and I salute you Fathima . We have followed your path in life as a mother , politician ,entrepreneur and freedom fighter . We believe in justice for all and equality and you have displayed all these characteristics . As a young Muslim professional woman in 1975 I always used you as an example to proceed with my life as a career woman. Thank you for indirectly shaping the course of my life


  2. Salaams and Duaas.A stalwart indeed.A remarkable lady.of stature and grit.
    What an amazing inspiration to ALL of us,both men and women.
    May ALLAH SWT bless you with long life so that you continue to be an inspiration.


  3. Amazing life of one of South Africas Indian pioneering women. A truly remarkable journey.


  4. Auntie Zuleikha you are a remarkable woman. What you have achieved despite losing your beloved Husband is fantastic. You have weathered many storms and it is time we the Muslims of South Africa acknowledge both and you and your husband’s contrbution by establishing the Shifa Hospital and various educational institutions in the apartheid days. A statue in honour of you and your husband will be appropriate.


  5. Zulekha Mayat is a woman of monumental achievements : versatile courageous , ageless, fearless , incomparable. “Scholar , humanitarian and Mother: wise, caring, and filled with tenderness, Zulekha Mayat earns the plaudits of a generation that honors her as a vital link in the humanities of people”. Lover of Justice, Liberty , Truth and Beauty. No woman is an Island. “A woman for all Seasons”. In the Bard’ s words ” This was a woman”


  6. Zulekha Mayat is a woman of monumental achievements : versatile courageous , ageless, fearless , incomparable. “Scholar , humanitarian and Mother: wise, caring, and filled with tenderness, Zulekha Mayat earns the plaudits of a generation that honors her as a vital link in the humanities of people”. Lover of Justice, Liberty , Truth and Beauty. No woman is an Island. “A woman for all Seasons”. In the Bard’ s words ” This was a woman


  7. A remarkable women who has served the community at large and continues to motivates women from all walks of life with her achievements and dedication for the better future for all.A true South African which we as a nation can be proud of her contribution on her commitments for a better South Africa for all.


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