Reunion roundup

Reunions held in 2011: Class of 1971 reunion

25 - 27 November 2011

By: Kathie Walker


Martin Allard, Roy Bane, Peter Baron, Mary Bateman, Michael Berman, Joan Bub, André Claassen , Barry Clements, Patrick Commerford, Pete Davies, Paul Deveaux, Brian Firth, Darryl Fraser, Selwyn Ger, Gordon Greeff, Peter Harpur, Max Harris, Martin Harris, Chris Hedgcock, Adi Horak, Melodie Hougaard, Sheena Inglis, Marian Jacobs, Joe Lund, Stewart Lund, Michael Martin, Margie Meltzer, Peter Mirkin, Dave Mitchell, Sam Moore, Hester Muller, Chris Radloff, Biddy Read, Brian Reynolds, Mary Robertson, Des Rosenthal, Peter Rush, Jason Sagor, Lorna Sent, Michael Sheppard, John Shipley, Brenda Lynn Smith, Anton van den Berg, Kathie Walker, Keith Watt, Ronald Werb, Max Wolf.

Academic Meeting Programme:

  1. The Gift of Sight: Today and Tomorrow - Michael Berman
  2. Two short videos: (1) Rheumatic Fever the A.S.A.P. Programme, Sore Can Lead to a Heart (2) Kidzpositive - Kathie Walker
  3. Dr Harris meets Dr Livingstone I presume (four months in Zambia) - Martin Harris
  4. An Alternative Outbreak of Hepatitis B - Margie Meltzer
  5. Reinventing Yourself: The Journey - Sam Moore
  6. 1996 25th Reunion Video Presentation - Chris Hedgcock
  7. What do Doctors do in their Spare Time? Try Rowing the Atlantic! - Dave Mitchell
  8. From Tourette's, to Mozart, to 30 years at the Stage Door - Anecdotes and Photographs - Mary Robertson
  9. Chernobyl 25 Year On - Michael Sheppard
  10. Outcomes of Osteosarcoma - John Shipley
  11. End of Life Issues in Renal Failure - Ronald Werb
  12. From Inclusion to Belonging! - Melodie Hougaard

The last week-end of November 2011 saw the medical class of 1971 celebrating 40 years since its graduation from UCT. The theme of the get together was to reflect on the past, enjoy and be mindful of the present and to look ahead to building the future. In 1996 we gathered for a 25th Class Reunion at which the late Bryan Kies reflected on the word "re-union" and he and the late Ramesh Bhikha led discussions on the injustices of the past. Progress towards reconciliation was achieved and we resolved the intent that the next time the class met it would be a celebration in which all class members would be happy and willing to participate in a now "unified" class The planning committee for the 40th celebration was set up soon after the sad passing of Ramesh and at that time Bryan was unwell, but he agreed to be a cyber-member of the planning team. He was our navigator and helped to steer the boat. His tragic and untimely death left us bobbing uncomfortably mid-ocean but he had left a navigation plan and we battled on with an unstable rudder. Then disaster struck when a killer-whale rammed the boat and destroyed our rudder and navigation plan. This killer whale was an expat class member now living in Houston. We were left to battle on in a dinghy; rudderless, confused and angry but we persevered with our goal of trying to make our celebration an ayoba moment.

At 9am on Friday 25th November we gathered at the MAC Club at Medical School to register and reconnect. The programme included a tour of Red Cross Children's Hospital or a tour of the Heart of Cape Town Museum. The chatter and excitement was palpable. It was difficult to get the tours off on schedule! Both tours were enjoyed and thought provoking. We are to date still receiving letters of appreciation.

In the evening the delegates were treated to a warm African Welcome ("wamkilikile") by amaAmbush Marimbas who played a selection of traditional African songs and of course "Wacko Wacko" the 2010 World Cup theme song. Eric Bateman hosted the evening and he provided an update of the current status of the faculty. He assumed this role as the current dean, Marian Jacobs, was on sabbatical. Marian, a member of the class of '71 attended the function. Eric created a comfortable space in which Marian was able to admirably address the troubling issues which surfaced following the sad passing of Bryan Kies.

On Saturday morning an Academic Meeting took place at the Wolfson Pavillion Lecture Theatre at Medical School. Grateful thanks are extended to Melodie Hougard and Patrick Commerford who convened a meeting of note. The programme started with the singing of the national Anthem. All expats were given copies of the words in normal font and braille.

A meeting after 40 years of practising medicine comes at a watershed time in the lives of colleagues - many face retirement, many are battling with loss of physical prowess and/or illness, many are fulfilling life-long dreams and others are tying up loose ends of academic and other life projects. All these parameters were covered in a programme which was, amusing, touching, stimulating and thought provoking. A congenial lunch followed. Some folk went on to explore the District Six museum and others to reflect and relax.

At 19h00 we gathered at Smuts Hall on the Main Campus for a photograph and dinner. This was a fitting venue as this is where we had our final year dinner in 1971.

Mary Robertson was the finest of "Master of Ceremonies" and she navigated the evening through the themes of past reflection and forward vision. The legendary Professor Maurice Kibel entertained us through words and music which touched many chords. He was ably accompanied by Tony Westwood on the piano. This was followed by an address by Professor Bongani Mayosi who presented the audience with an insightful view of the way forward. People chatted way past midnight and it was indeed a joyful occasion.

On Sunday delegates enjoyed a guided tour of Kirstenbosch followed by a picnic. The festivities ended with a decision that we should meet again in 5 years! Our goal was achieved- the 1971 Medical Class Celebration was indeed an ayoba moment.

In addition to the fun shared by all, a number of organisations benefited and jobs were created:

  1. Kidz-positive Family Fund; name tag holders and sale of beadwork R5,000
  2. The Children's Trust through the sales of "General Tso's Chicken and the 7 Deadly Sins"
  3. The Heart of Cape Town Museum
  4. amaAmbush Marimbas

Thanks are extended to Joan Tuff at the Alumni Office, the audio/visual team at Medical school, the caterers and all the staff at the various functions, siyabulela.