My mind goes back to December 17, Lilongwe, Malawi. I ran into Anesa, the wife of Prof. de Gruchy's former student Kelvin Kalonga. She asked me what I'm up to nowadays and I told her I'm a student at the University of KwaZulu Natal, studying Theology and Development. Her face lit up, 'Ah, you are with Steve de Gruchy!' I had to ask her if she'd met him in person; to which she responded that no, she had never met him but he'd made such an impression on her husband that it felt like she knew him herself. Anesa and Kelvin have a daughter, Shalom. I asked if that name came from Prof. Steve's lectures on themes of liberation. 'Yes!' she said. Obviously. Everyone who knew Steve de Gruchy had a story, a good story about him.
I myself was selfish. While others learned from this gifted professor and sat under his pastoral counsel, I employed my strategy of 'avoiding to be a groupie'. Only now do I realise that no one was a groupie, a wise person naturally attracts friends, students and followers to himself. That was his gift; intelligence, wisdom, faith and humility. A rare combination. I hope to grasp at those principles and display of character that I managed to glimpse at from afar, after all, I'm lucky to have glimpsed at all. Ironically, my assignment that was supposed to be due this week was to read one of his discourses on a case study.
Love and Peace to his family. Grace to the program he developed here and comfort to the ecumenical fellowship everywhere mourning his loss.
(Prof. Steve de Gruchy passed on in a tubing accident on the Mooi river, in the province of KwaZulu Natal in the week of 21-26 April, 2010). May his soul rest in peace.