Home PodcastJulie Alli Farewell to Uncle Smiley: A Legacy of Compassion and Visionary Leadership

Farewell to Uncle Smiley: A Legacy of Compassion and Visionary Leadership

by Thaabit Kamaar

Johannesburg – The passing of Ahmed “Smiley” Ismael, the Founder of Siyafunda Community Technology Centre (CTC), will undoubtedly leave a void not only in the hearts of his family and friends but also among his peers, colleagues, and the countless individuals whose lives he has profoundly impacted.

Known affectionately as Uncle Smiley, he transcended the ordinary. He stood out as a man of faith, a leader, a friend, and a visionary. Thanks to his unwavering compassion and tireless dedication to serving others, his legacy is etched in the hearts of those fortunate enough to have crossed paths with him.

As we contemplate his life’s journey, purpose, and the profound changes he brought about, it becomes evident that Uncle Smiley’s influence reached far beyond what one could imagine.

Abdulhaq Rajah, a longtime friend and colleague, emphasised Uncle Smiley’s perpetual concern for others and his desire to aid those in need in any way possible. With a wealth of experience in IT, Rajah highlighted how Uncle Smiley consistently harboured the vision of educating and empowering disadvantaged communities through technological advancements.

“He’s somebody that we can’t replace. People talk about others who are indispensable, but I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that he is not.”

Derived from his vision, Siyafunda CTC has evolved into more than 180 centres nationwide, positively impacting tens of thousands of South Africans.

As per the statements of Siyafunda’s Director, Faiza Xaba, they have successfully provided training in coding to over 100,000 students and 7,000 teachers. His influence goes beyond statistics as he played a crucial role in the lives of everyone involved, including Xaba.

She acknowledges that her current position owes much to his support and guidance throughout her career. Despite his passing, his character, actions, and lessons will endure and continue to shape the lives of those he touched.

“Uncle Smiley has left us, but we will continue his legacy of empowering everyone in the community because that was his first priority.”

Mustaff Makaudi, a colleague at Siyafunda and a close friend, highlighted that Uncle Smiley’s priorities centred around faith and community. Their paths first crossed during a community project in Cosmo City.

Through this shared experience, Makaudi gained a deeper understanding of Uncle Smiley’s character. He identified him as someone genuinely committed to improving the lives of others, particularly the youth facing the myriad challenges of today.

Uncle Smiley’s legacy, rooted in this commitment, will be affectionately cherished. Although he may no longer be with us, Makaudi asserts that it now falls upon every Siyafunda graduate, family member, and friend to carry Uncle Smiley’s legacy forward and continue serving the community in his spirit.

“Uncle Smiley had been a great man for the community. He saw the best in people and made sure young people were being served in our communities. So, in memory of Uncle Smiley, the community of Cosmo and communities across the country are hurt by his passing.”

As we say our goodbyes to Uncle Smiley, we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. His memory will endure in the lives he influenced and the positive transformations he brought about. While we grieve his departure, let us also commemorate the vibrant and purposeful life he led.

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