Reunion roundup

Reunions held in 2009: Class of 1969 40th reunion

27 - 29 November 2009

February 12, 2010

Dear Aunt Ethel

Joan Tuff (Alumni & Bequest Officer), Tuviah Zabow and Abdul-Wahab Barday, lynchpins of the organisation of the UC T Medical Class of 1969 40th Reunion, have lumbered me with the official report.

The reunion took place in Cape Town from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th November 2009. The first announcement from Joan in the Faculty of Health Sciences Alumni Office arrived a year earlier, with reminders at qua rterly intervals thereafter. I had informed members of our "tut-group" 18 months ago, seeing that 3 of them lived abroad permanently, and 2 more intermittently.

The format followed the pattern of recent class reunions: largely medical-school-based events, a formal dinner including partners on the Saturday evening, and a relaxed culmination at Kirstenbosch on Sunday. The planning and attention to detail was seamless: Joan and her team, and Tuviah and Abdul-Wahab, deserve high praise, thanks and congratulations.

Programme of events


Fri, 27 Nov 09h00 Registration and coffee at Medical School
  10h00 Tour of the Student Learning Centre, Medical School campus
  11h00 Tour of the Transplant Museum, Groote Schuur Hospital
  13h00 Lunch - Tafelberg Room, Groote Schuur Hospital
  Afternoon At leisure
  18h00 Cocktail party - Wolfson Pavilion, IIDMM Building, Medical School Dress: Smart Casual
Sat, 28 Nov 09h00 Academic Meeting - Wolfson Pavilion, IIDMM Building, Medical School
  12h30 Lunch - Wolfson Pavilion, IIDMM Building, Medical School
  14h00 Visit to the District Six Museum
  19h30 for 20h00 Gala Dinner - Smuts Hall
Dress: Smart Casual / Jacket & Tie
  19h45 Class photograph
Sun, 29 Nov 09h00 Mountain walk from Cecilia Forest to Kirstenbosch
  10h30 Guided tour of Kirstenbosch Gardens
  12h30 Lunch at Kirstenbosch Tea Room

Registration on Friday morning was exciting, confirming that long-since-last-seen colleagues were easily recognisable. So-and-so's cheeky face seemed ageless, so-and-so's laugh even more outrageous. Some had changed shape, gait or presence of hair or colour thereof, however. The tour of medical school was new and instructive to most of us. The visit to the Heart of Cape Town Museum was worthwhile indeed. This was because the terrain and history was so part of us. The world's first heart transplant took place as we finished 4th year; we had worked on the museum-site: erstwhile casualty and theatre block of old Groote Schuur Hospital. However, the excellence of the museum itself and the knowledgeable and sensitive presentation by the tour-guide made the occasion: the documentary on Christiaan Barnard's life was very moving.

The Friday evening cocktail party was poorly attended, yet we were honoured to be addressed by Prof Marian Jacobs, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. She has her finger on the pulse and is in touch with the student body. The night was still young thereafter, giving classmates a chance to go off for a meal elsewhere.

Academic Meeting Programme

Chair: Abdul Barday

1. Hyperinflation and its Effects on the Health Services in Zimbabwe 2008 09h00 - 09h15
  Kevin Martin  
2. Bigglesworth MD 09h20 - 09h35
  Doc Caldwell 09h40 - 09h55
3. Research - A Cynical Look Back: 1978-2002  
  Keith Payne  
4. What are the Medical Practioner needs for SA? 10h00 - 10h15
  Tuviah Zabow  
  Tea 10h20-11h00
Chair: Tuviah Zabow  
5. Aspects of Complaints to the HPCSA 11h00 - 11h15
  Abdul Barday  
6. Carmageddon - The Hidden War Between People and the Motor Car
Louis Reynolds
7. All Class members
Interesting stories
  Lunch 12h30

The Saturday mini-seminar was a success beyond expectations. The talks were unrelated, as the programme tells, but there was a remarkable cohesion, aided by audience interaction. Kevin Martin's talk on Zimbabwe brought tears to the eyes: of sadness of course, but also of mirth when he compared the worth of the zillion Zimdollar note to a square of one-ply toiletpaper. Additional talks were given by Brian Cohen with a view from the USA, and Ockie Oosthuisen with fascinating genetics from Namibia. One had to conclude that if Louis-George Reynolds ever buys another motor-car it will be in two-tone green, powered by cans of methane: or bulldust to put it more bluntly.

The dinner at Smuts Hall was a gracious affair enhanced by partners, with excellent fare (as was the case throughout the reunion) and good company and repartee. We were privileged to have Prof Stuart Saunders as guest-speaker, and he was part of the class photograph that preceded the meal. The elegance of the dining hall was not matched by its acoustics, but that is merely the opinion of biased Driekoppen-Kopano men, accentuated by sparse numbers in a voluminous venue.

Kirstenbosch on Sunday morning was a perfect setting for bringing events to a close. Louis-George led us well from Cecilia Forest to the garden itself: we await his copious photographs. Oscar Diedericks and his wife inadvertently started from Constantia Nek, but looked none the worse for the extra exertion. Pat Bowerbank, tour-guide and ex UCT physiotherapist, gave us an entertaining background to the gardens. Then it was time to go our various ways, with some colleagues lunching at the Kirstenbosch tea-room.

The class list shows 117 names. 11 are deceased, 7 missing: one fears more demises, given ages etc. That leaves 99 who were contacted. Final attendance was 27. 16 were from Cape Town - but that leaves 20 from the area who did not show up. Whereas 2 travelled from Australasia (the Petes, Haddad and Krige), 2 from the USA (Dubie Dubowitz and Brian Cohen), 1 from the UK (Dave Katz), 1 from Zimbabwe, 1 from Namibia, 1 each from KZN and Gauteng, and 2 from Eastern Cape. So it was a high-quality low-quantity turnout.

Arthur Dunkley (UK) and Keith Brice were desperately disappointed to miss the reunion through serious illness, having been booked and paid-up: fortunately both are recovering well. No doubt other colleagues had entirely valid reasons for not attending a significant reunion: 4 decades since qualifying. However, some simply did not make the effort despite living round the corner, and one at least was very rude to an organiser when approached.

Our tut-group had a marvellous lengthy tea/braai at Fish Hoek on the Thursday, strengthened by partners, influential mentor Derrick Burns, a Physiology II colleague when Haddad, Dunkley and I broke off for a year to complete a BSc(Med), and other classmates we knew particularly well. Two of the latter did not reappear at the official reunion, which was a little naughty, thrilled as we had been to see them. Cosi fan tutte. Had Dunk been there, 6 out of 7 of the tut-group would have made it.

For those who attended, the reunion was meaningful, enjoyable and successful, confirmed by written comments received since. One of these suggested that it might be better for a small group of colleagues and partners to meet in say Mauritius for 5 days. Well, maybe for our 45th: but for the half-century, more of the same please. Events before and soon after the reunion have confirmed that we are not as indestructible or immortal as we might have suspected. For our stalwart organisers, one should expect far better than a 27% turnout from the traceable survivors in 2019, in Cape Town, our Alma Mater.

Yours affectionately

Robert-Ian aka Doc Caldwell