The passing away of Mohamed Yousuf Lavangee has plunged the community in deep grief and sorrow. It has left a void and an empty feeling in the hearts of family and friends alike. This demonstrates how Mohamed had touched the hearts of people in so many different ways.
Mohamed Yousuf Lavangee was born in Durban on 29 July 1967 to Yousuf Mohamed and Zubeida Bibi Lavangee. He attended Orient Primary and High Schools in Durban and relocated to Johannesburg in 1984 at the tender age of 17. On arrival, Mohamed took up employment with Osgo Investments in downtown Johannesburg. From an early age, he showed signs of developing into an astute businessman and this took him into various other ventures including a successful footwear business which he ran for several years in Eloff Street, Johannesburg.
His passion for business and zest for advancement ultimately led him to join his family in managing and running the Chicken Licken franchise in Fordsburg. This did not dilute his new found passion to serve the community in whatever way he could. Mohamed became actively involved in junior football and spent much time assisting and coaching youngsters. He often assisted various Islamic organisations and will be remembered for co-ordinating Iftaar programmes for the needy and less fortunate during Ramadan.
Mohamed assisted our School in various capacities for a number of years before being appointed to serve on our school’s Board of Management. He served as the Head of our school’s Events Management Committee with distinction until his passing away. Perhaps Mohamed will be best remembered by the JMS community for his dedication and commitment in taking charge of the school’s soccer teams during their participation in the Association of Muslim Schools Annual Soccer Tournaments.
Mohamed had a myriad of friends, which bears testimony to the kind of individual that he was. He knew his life was an abundance meant to be shared. Giving was his joy. Loyalty and devotion were the fuel that powered his life. Mohamed was endlessly insightful and never the center of his own universe. With a rare capacity to understand equally the despair and the joys of others, he stood by everyone in his life through any emotional or physical crisis. No misery made him turn away. He brought the same loving strength to funerals as he did to weddings.
He will be missed for his consistent support and encouragement. He was a good listener when he needed to be. Actually, he loved talking to everyone he met and would talk to anyone. It didn’t matter who they were, it made no difference to him. Everyone was treated in the same manner. He had a phenomenal way of making each person feel that they were the only one that was getting the benefit of his help which he always offered.
Mohamed was a person of character. He was the person everyone got on with, exceptionally likeable and never failed to leave an impression with anyone that met him. He was kind and generous although never afraid to tell you what he thought and believed, always one to help and put himself on the line for you. He did not tolerate complacency, he always did things to the best of his ability, with a passion and enthusiasm beyond most people’s comprehension. His characteristic of sacrificing his time and energy for others was quite authentic. Mohamed gave of his time so willingly and never expected anything in return. And that was one of his extraordinary gifts, giving himself in different ways to each of us and making us more than we were before we met him – creating a unique place for each of us in his life.
He was selfless and believed in the goodness of people. Mohamed epitomized courage. He was passionate in defence of people and values he cherished. If his passion ever overtook him, as it sometimes did, he would always, in the end, reflect, forgive, apologize and make up. Somehow being around Mohamed made life bigger, more possible. He was the living embodiment of the saying that life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
Mohamed put a lot of time and effort into his work, and to the people and organizations he worked with. Work was important to him. The dedication he put into it have created a foundation that, frankly, anyone could build on and make successful. Building on his work allows us to aspire to do honest, committed and worthwhile work that will make a difference in peoples’ lives.
Mohamed was driven by purpose, people and by his care for them. Care was a recurring theme around Mohamed. He cared for all those around him. For all his bravado, he showed extraordinary gentleness. In spite of his public charisma and impact, Mohamed was, at heart, an intensely private person. In his own most effective way, he was thoughtful, spiritual and reflective to a level that few knew. And it was this thoughtfulness that allowed him to have the strength and insight to have made such an impact.
When something needed to be done, when somebody needed to do something, that somebody was Mohamed Lavangee. He saw possibilities where the rest of us saw need. He saw opportunity where the rest of us saw problems. He didn’t say, “Let somebody else do it.” He said, “I’ll take that on, I will do it.”
A friend, colleague, school board trustee, husband, father, brother and son. Whatever roll he played, from whatever vantage point he was viewed, Mohamed stood apart as someone special.
In addition to his devotion to his work and his commitment to our school, Mohamed always found time for his family. He was proud of his wife and children and did not disguise his happiness when his daughter Zaaheda qualified as a teacher, or when his son Siraj passed Matric, or when Hamza took first prize at a speech contest.
There will be a gaping hole in many hearts for some time. But Allah SWT will use the instrument of time to heal those holes. The tragedy is that very few people – if any at all – told him how much he influenced our lives — and that of so many others.
Mohamed’s torch of action-based dedication, commitment, compassion and love must be kept alive to brightly lead the way for others to carry his legacy forward.
We make dua that Allah SWT shower His infinite mercy on Marhoom Mohamed Yusuf Lavangee and that He elevates the Marhoom’s status Jannatul Firdose. Ameen.