VETERAN journalist of The Herald and Evening Post Jimmy Matyu is gone forever, but his journalism will remain an inspiration to a legion of scribes for many decades to come. His sterling contribution will outlast his death.
I bumped into him for the first time on February 7 2004 at the Port Elizabeth Airport. He greeted me softly with a voice full of dignity and life.
I lifted my head from my writing and reading, and introduced myself. We had a 10-minute conversation, sparked by his seeing me writing endlessly. This conversation was an inextinguishable fire of inspiration.
I yearned to record his words because they were simple but penetrated my heart like a soft rain on an extremely sunny day. He said, "Young man, with your passion for reading and writing you will go places in life. The two work hand in hand.
"Nowadays young people are shy of reading. They are only interested in fast life and short-lived joy. As long as you read you will never go wrong.
"Reading will enable you to fight ignorance and stay ahead of your peer group. People will fear you because of your wealth of information."
Matyu asked me gently to show him what I was writing in my pocket notebook. Our conversation got deeper and meaningful.
"Do you keep a daily journal regularly? This is a rare practice because modern technology has made people of your age a captive of television," he said.
He asked me about my future dream and I responded, "I would like to become a journalist in the print media because I have been inspired by the writing style and the works of many journalists". He asked me who were those newsmen and did I know this field did not pay if I was looking for money.
As I mentioned some of the journalists I admired, such as Percy Qoboza and Khulu Sibiya (City Press), Jon Qwelane and Phil Nyamane (Sunday Star) and Sy Lerman (Rand Daily Mail now with Sunday Times), his face was beaming.
I had to go. He shook my hand and gave me a R50 note.
Although he did not reveal to me he was a journalist, I discovered a few minutes later when a woman heading in the same direction as me asked me if I knew I was talking to a journalist. I wished I could have gone back but the taxi was awaiting me with commuters inside.
We will not compromise and betray the course of journalists who have gone before us, but will prove our mettle in whatever way and ultimately keep the journalism flag highly hoisted.
Themba Nkosi, journalism student, Rhodes University