In life, leadership means more than making the big decisions on what is to be done. It means being able to inspire and motivate people to action, through one’s own action and example. We know leaders who walk this path in the glare of the media spotlight. But there’s a another category of leader who hardly ever makes the news: the tireless, grassroots worker – head down, shoulder to the wheel – ever striving to better the lives of communities, for little to no pay. For ordinary South Africans living through desperate times, these unassuming leaders are real lifelines. The Eshowe area has lost one of those precious lifelines.
Patti Lorraine Joshua was a well-known and respected community organiser who spent her life helping communities in the area and surrounding areas, through numerous social upliftment initiatives she launched and worked on. That life of service ended tragically, at age 62, after a road accident. Patti was born in the Gingindlovu area, into a family defined by community engagement. Even before she began her social transformation work, she was blazing trails, opening the first black-owned hairdressing salon allowed to operate in Eshowe’s CBD in 1979.
It wasn’t long before her passion for people and empowerment led her to her calling. A fluent isiZulu speaker, Patti founded the Senzokuhle CBO Network, an organization that hosted a broad range of community-run projects in the Eshowe area from feeding programmes to skills training workshops to literacy and peacemaking campaigns. Her lifelong mission to uplift and heal – which began as a practitioner of natural healing therapies like reflexology – came full circle in more recent years, taking on a more spiritual tone after she embraced the Buddhist faith in 2002 and later becoming a Resident Teacher in 2012. She brought the therapeutic value of meditation she found in her own life, into her work. In response to the impact of trauma and hardship on the communities she served, Patti introduced rural residents to group meditation. The results can be seen in a poignant YouTube video documenting her groundbreaking “Transform Your Life” programme, as children describe how meditation has helped them to cope and find inner peace. Patti offered the same benefits to prisoners as well.
We honour the life of an exemplary human being who put the needs and care of others first – an internationally recognized humanitarian who was as humble as she was determined, always seeking solutions. The many who knew and loved Patti will miss her big smile and easy laugh (she could find the humour in almost anything!) that made it easy for others to engage with her, as she opened her heart to all. She lived Ubuntu. In this tragedy, we as her family know that her wish would be to not be held up as a hero but rather as an example of how we should pay goodness forward. Patti was a loving wife, a devoted mother, a caring grandmother and a trusted friend. She is survived by her husband Trevor Joshua, her sons Kelsang Phuntsog, Arthur Joshua and Carl Joshua, her daughter Adelaide Joshua-Hill and four grandchildren.