Thursday, April 20, 2017

Miss me but let me go

Sometimes something that is very sad is also very uplifting.

Last week, an 18-year-old South African woman, Ontlametse Phalatse, died in a Pretoria hospital.  Shortly before, she complained to the driver of the taxi she was in that she was having difficulty breathing, and collapsed on the floor.  She was rushed to a local clinic, then to a Pretoria hospital, where doctors could not save her.

Obviously, it is tragic that a young woman should die so young.

What is uplifting is that Ontlametse was the first black person to be diagnosed with a rare disease called progeria, which causes a person to age rapidly.  On initial diagnosis, Ontlametse was told that she may see her fourteenth birthday, but wouldn’t live much beyond that.  So, she outlived that prediction by four years.

 It is how she lived her life that had such a huge impact on people.  Not only did she accept that her life was going to be short, but she vowed to live it to the fullest.  She used her celebrity status to get politicians to pay attention to the facilities of the school she attended; she provided sanitary pads to all the girls in the school, many of whom could  not afford them; she became a motivational speaker, trying to encourage others who were suffering to take a positive view of the world; and she created a bucket list of things to do and people to meet.

 It almost seems that her mind and wisdom also outran her age.  She was wise beyond her years.

One item on her bucket list was to meet the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.  She used the occasion to make him promise the he would ensure that his foundation would build her mother a house.  She also received an invitation to be a Very Important Person at his 75th birthday party.  She died just before that happened.

With President Zuma

Ontlametse in the dress she was going to wear to Zuma's birthday.  With her mother.
 One can only be moved at the courage of this young woman who was physically so different from all her school mates.  One can only imagine how difficult that was for her.  She once said “Beauty is not the appearance of someone but it is their personality and how they are on the inside as well as their heart. 

As one would expect, her funeral was a celebration of a remarkable life, with people from all walks of life paying her tribute.

For me, a Whatsapp message she sent to the principal of her high school sums up who she was:  Miss me a little and not too long‚ miss me but let me go.”

What a woman!  What an inspiration.


Murder Is Everywhere
Author Recognitions and Events


April 28-26
Malice Domestic
Hyatt Regency
Bethesda, Maryland
Panel: The British Empire
(FYI- Sujata and I will be on the same panel!!!)

May 31
Janet Rudolph Literary Salon:
"The History of Hot Places: Clashes between Colonialism and Local Cultures”
Joint appearance with Michael Cooper


Murder in Saint Germain, Aimée Leduc’s next investigation, comes out June 6, 2017.


Paper back of Rat Run published 28th March.


"The Olive Growers,” appears in BOUND BY MYSTERY, an anthology edited by Diane DiBiasi celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Poisoned Pen Press, out in March.


Dying to Live (Kubu #6) to be released in May in UK & South Africa and in October in USA

May 19-21    
Franschhoek Literary Festival (Michael).

May 20          
Panel :One Voice, Two Authors with Alex Latimer and Diane Awerbuck 11:30 - 12:30

May 21          
Panel: The Author as Chemist with Joanne Harris and Ekow Duker 11:30 - 12:30

May 19-21    
Crimefest in Bristol UK (Stanley)

14:40 - 15:30:   What Are You Hiding?: The Dark Side Of Human Nature 

12:30 - 13:20:  Panel: Power Corrupts: Who Can You Turn To?


  1. A very moving story and one I didn't know about. It's amazing how some people who have very little and suffer big problems can be so generous and selfless, while others who have much seem only greedy for more.

  2. Wow. And yes, exactly what Michael said.

  3. Unlike my dear Michael and EvKa, I prefer to concentrate on the positive aspect of the story--which I find incredibly inspiring. Instead of the greedy bad actors, I prefer to think about the many, many people who think of themselves a powerless. If someone like Ontlametse can have the impact she did, can have achieved what she achieved, I hope others less impaired, with much more time to put in will see (to use an "African" phrase), the power of one. If they can learn to feel their own potential and harness it, they can become so much more than they think. Thank you Stan. I'm sharing this to see if this beautiful story can find a few more people to inspire to optimism and action.

  4. In the "more is better" times in which we live, Ontlametse's inspirational generosity is the sort of more our world truly needs. God rest her soul.