When the District Six Entertainers take to the streets this year, there will be a key figure missing, somebody many spectators look out for and who led the troupe from the back, with his bold, but entertaining dance moves.
Sulaiman “Boeta Solly” Abrahams from Bo-Kaap was laid to rest from his mother’s Belgravia home on Sunday November 20 after suffering a heart attack at his beloved troupe’s fundraiser on the night before.
The minstrel community went into shock as the news of his untimely death surfaced, with numerous selfies, pictures and memories of the iconic minstrel figure being posted on Facebook.
An executive, from the District Six Entertainers, Kader Miller said the troupe would, “take a lifetime to forget or replace this man”.
“Solly was a man of character, a man with respect and a man who would die for his community. Solly was the kind of person who would sacrifice everything to be with his rugby or with his entertainment. He was a man who was never ever negative, but he would fight for the All Blacks, SKW (SK Walmers rugby club) and D6 Entertainers,” Mr Miller said.
Boeta Solly was also an International Springbok Minstrel, having toured with Mr Miller to the Seychelles as part of the
7 Steps Minstrels on more than one occasion and as usual, ended up winning the hearts of the people overseas by doing what he did best.
“Condolences from Seychelles have been pouring in for him. The Seychelles Tourism Board also sent their condolences because of the connection he had with the world. He was the icon for South Africa, because we represented the country,” Mr Miller said.
Boeta Solly dedicated 37 years of his life to the minstrels and his passing happened on a day when most troupes were taking to the streets in preparation for the official Road March on Saturday December 17.
In 2015, Atlantic Sun, ran an interview with Boeta Solly, as he prepared to take on yet another minstrel season (“Minstrels on the beat”, Atlantic Sun, January 22, 2015).
Shanaaz Richards from Hazendal has been following the minstrel parade with her family for almost 40 years now and “Boeta Solly” was always the highlight of her day. “Apart from the team being so good, once they have passed, here comes Boeta Solly, who always approached me and my family on Road March day. Then he starts breaking it down and entertaining us. He put a smile on our faces and reminded everybody why they were there, to enjoy themselves and enjoy the culture,” said the Pennsylvanians troupe supporter.
“This is a massive loss for everybody. There won’t be a Boeta Solly this year, and sadly, there won’t ever be a Boeta Solly, because there can only be one Boeta Solly,” she added.
Cousin of Boeta Solly, Nazeem Parker, who lives in Salt River, but grew up with Boeta Solly in Bo-Kaap, was overcome with emotions as he struggled to find the words to describe a man he said was a true “people’s person”.
“He was my brother and just the thought of him passing away puts me in a really sad state. I grew up with him, in front of him and he was always the type of guy who everybody just liked. I knew him my whole life and for him to be gone is a thought I must get used to,” Mr Parker said.
“It’s a massive loss to all of us.”
Scores of people from all over Cape Town were in Belgravia on Sunday to bid their final farewells to one of Cape Town’s most loved entertainers. “It’s a sad loss for D6 at the start of our season, but we can assure you that the spirit of Boeta Solly will indeed motivate us, because that is all that he would expect of us,” Mr Miller added.
Atlantic Sun made contact with the family, but they were not able to comment at the time of going to print.