By Buhle Andisiwe Made
Former eRhini mayor Kholisile Colley Draai passed away last week and was buried on Saturday, 25 February 2023, in Makhanda.
Draai was one of the first Black mayors of Rhini and a councillor for Joza Location. He was a significant figure in the community for his work as mayor and councillor for the Joza location.
Draai was a man of the people, a patron that dedicated his life to the betterment of his district, even in his retirement. His service to his community began during his younger days, where he became one of the first Black mayors in Rhini and a member of the local authority, Rhini Town Council. This structure represented Black people during Apartheid.
After the former South African president, FW De Klerk announced the unbanning of the Liberation Movement on 2 February 1990, Draai continued campaigning for the Joza community.
In the early 1990s, he joined the Grahamstown Transitional Local Council – composed of former councillors and mayors from the different local authority structures. The then white-dominated Transitional Local Council then consisted of Black, Coloured, Indian and White leaders. Although the council’s purpose was to create inclusivity, it was dissolved in 1993.
Draai made fundamental steps to ameliorate communities within the Fingo Village and Joza locations during his time with Transitional Local Council. During his service, Draai had made sure there were streetlights for each section and roads tarred. Former colleague and Grahamstown Civic Community member, Mr Johnathan Walton, commends Draai during his tenure as mayor. “During his time, services were delivered to committees in Makhanda,” said Walton.
Walton added that Draai would be remembered as a meticulous man, a true gentleman with great eloquence and a kind demeanour to those he would contact, regardless of their background.
Even in his old age, Draai worked with Ward 2 councillor Ramie Xonxa in 2017, where they cleaned up a dumping site which was a health risk to children and community members.
Xonxa added that Mr Draai was a man of ‘great wisdom’. Lessons that could be taken away from Kholisile Draai’s life and service would be those of humility and community involvement.
In recognition of his commitment to his community, Ballsbridge University awarded Draai an honorary doctorate. Draai will receive his Doctor of Philosophy in Community Development degree posthumously on 3 March 2023 in Gqeberha.
Mr Draai’s tireless efforts in servicing the people of his community are actual examples of ubuntu; he was indeed a benevolent being, and his passing is a significant loss to the community.