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Gerald Samaai’s voice silent

Gerald Samaai, one of the seven Samaai brothers in Paarl East, has died peacefully at his home in Charleston Hill after a long illness at the age of 79. He would have turned 80 next week. His elder brother David, the famous Wimbledon tennis player, died in June last year.

Gerald was a teacher and accepted his first post as a teacher in Johannesburg. Because of Apartheid Gerald could not find a place at a local college. So he had to go and study in Johannesburg. The requirements of his bursary were that he had to teach in Johannesburg for at least five years before he could return to Paarl.

Back home Gerald was appointed as English teacher at Noorder-Paarl High School. At that time, his brother, David Samaai, was already appointed principal at William Lloyd Primary. Eventually Gerald ended up as English and Geography teacher at William Mason Primary School in Bishop Lavis on the Cape Flats so that he could be close to the Eoan group and the Joseph Stone Theatre in Athlone.

Gerald the Opera singer

But it was during Gerald’s teaching career at William Mason Primary in Bishop Lavis on the Cape Flats, that he became involved in the Eoan Group. Situated in District Six and later in Athlone, the Eoan Group played an important role in Cape Town’s cultural life, despite the difficulties experienced under Apartheid. The group produced operas, ballet shows, dramas and many choral concerts from 1933 until the late 1970s. Many singers, dancers and actors from the disadvantaged community of Cape Town found a home at the Eoan group.

Gerald used to sing “O Holy Night” in his beloved Congregational church on Christmas Eve.

Gerald was one of the Eoan-group’s star performers as a tenor. He sang the leading roles in operas such as Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Rigoletto and La Traviata.

He is survived by his wife Serena (a former teacher herself), his brothers Ronnie (music lecturer) and Ivan (former school principal and Circuit Manager), his son Craig, his daughter Shirl and four grandchildren.

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