Yusuf Talia passes away

Written by on September 22, 2014 in News, u

yusuf talia

Yusuf Talia, despite his challenges with Muscular Dystrophy  was truly an inspiration to all that knew him.  He was the President of the MSA Union, vice president of the Wits SRC. He was also very active with the Free Palestine campaign. In his time at university he studied a science degree and a accounting degree. Truly a legend.


Activist Yusuf Talia dies after battle with muscular dystrophy


Yusuf Talia, well-known activist and one of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans for 2013, died on Monday morning. Talia suffered from Duchenne muscular dystrophy – an illness which causes muscular degeneration.

Wheelchair-bound since the age of 10, Talia was in the process of obtaining his third degree from Wits University, and was a prominent activist.

“Talia set himself the goal of invigorating young people and proving that they are all capable of attaining their goals if they maintain their passion and determination,” The M&G reported last year. Aged 24 at the time, he had attained a Bachelor of Accounting Science degree.

“In the first year of his second degree … one of his lungs collapsed and he spent 42 days in intensive care. After recovering, Talia steeled himself for the task of catching up with his studies and is now in his final year,” read the report.

Talia was a member of the Disabled Students Movement, the head of mentorship at Redineo – an organisation which mentors underprivileged children – and the deputy president of the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) in 2010. He represented student interests on the Higher Education Disability Service Association and was also the president of the Union of Muslim Students’ Association of South Africa.

Zaida Gangat, a friend of Talia’s who interviewed him for the Wits Vuvuzela in 2009, described him as an “incredible person”. She said Talia’s wheelchair was a common feature on campus, “always on the go, zipping to meetings or demonstrations”. Her feature was playfully headlined, “Breaking the speed limit”. Talia was able to laugh at the title.

“It was a playful take on his boundless energy,” she said. “I was blown away by his spirit and even when he wasn’t well he was committed to activism, and he campaigned regularly on campus. I was inspired by what he had achieved, even though he was so young. If I could touch a fraction of the people that he touched, I would consider myself lucky.”

In a recent interview
, Talia described his parents as his support system. At the time, his condition had deteriorated to the point where he was totally dependent on assisted care. He had recently had a tracheotomy.

“My family is my support system without whom I won’t be able to function. My dad, mum and my brother are my primary caregivers. They are assisted by our domestic worker. This is my “A” team … It is important for me that my personal time includes staying connected to my family and friends. I love interacting with people and would hate to ever be isolated as a result of my condition,” Talia said.

Gangat said Talia was also a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Source: Mail and Guardian

About Yusuf Talia from Mail and Guardians top 200 South Africans 2013

Yusuf Talia has set himself the goal of invigorating young people and proving that they are all capable of attaining their goals if they maintain their passion and determination. Diagnosed at an early age with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Talia has been wheelchair-bound since he was 10. Now 24, he has a Bachelor of Accounting Science degree. In the first year of his second degree, a BSc at the University of the Witwatersrand, one of his lungs collapsed and he spent 42 days in intensive care. After recovering, Talia steeled himself for the task of catching up with his studies and is now in his final year. Fascinated with physiology, he dreams of becoming a medical doctor. Guided by the words of Umar Ibn Al Khattab, Talia believes that: “If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from it you cannot flee.” In pursuit of this destiny he contributes to a number of bodies on campus and in the Muslim community, with the aim of creating a world in which all our differences are understood and able to find expression. As a member of the Disabled Students Movement Talia organised the first disability awareness concert in the Muslim community, in 2009. He has represented student interests on the Higher Education Disability Service Association for the past two years. As president of the Union of Muslim Students’ Association of South Africa, Talia does not only focus on issues of disability. He is also the head of mentorship at Redineo, an organisation that steers the educational development of underprivileged children. “Every individual has something of value that must be nurtured and channelled to make a difference to those around them, creating a ripple effect that benefits all of humanity,” he explains. — Taryn Mackay


source: Yusuf Talia

 MDSA Interview – A DAY IN THE LIFE OF Yusuf Talia


A normal day in my life is pursuing my studies at the University of Witwatersrand.It would also include Muslim students Association work and other community services work.

The special interest in my area of study is the lab work that I enjoy for my physiology studies.

What I love most about my field of interest is the interaction that I have with all aspects of studying ie. Lecturers, students, staff and friends

Some of the defining moments in my studies have been being selected to be a member of the Golden Key Society, being selected to go on a Common Purpose Leadership Programme, being elected on Students Representative Council (SRC) twice in a row, being elected as Vice President SRC. I thoroughly enjoyed my terms on the SRC and have experienced personal growth as a result.

Presently I have been elected as President of MSA Union and we have embarked on a huge education project…Project IQra. We aim to prepare study packs for underprivileged Gr 11 learners. Then, have them transported to the Universities where they will enjoy a Careers Day and be inspired to study hard, complete Matric with great results and endeavour to study at tertiary institutions.


My family is my support system without whom I won’t be able to function. My Dad, Mum and my Brother are my primary caregivers. They are assisted by our domestic worker. This is my “A” team.

My hobbies and extra mural activities include watching TV…love programmes like sport, comedy, discovery channel, news/current affairs etc, playing PlayStation, reading, going to the movies and doing community work.

It is important for me that my personal time includes staying connected to my family and friends. I love interacting with people and would hate to ever be isolated as a result of my condition.

I have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I was diagnosed when I was 5 years old. Shortly after my 10thbirthday, I became wheelchair bound. This did not stop me from going to school and I continued to study at a mainstream school. I passed Matric with excellent results and was determined to study at Wits. I obtained my degree in accounting… BAccScience in 2009. I am currently studying for my second degree…BSc. My favourite subjects are physiology and psychology. My goal is to do honours in physiology.

My medical condition has progressed to an extent whereby I am physically weakened to a point whereby I need lots of assistance. I need help with bathing, grooming, dressing, feeding, etc. Last year, my right lung collapsed and I was hospitalized for 42 days. I left hospital with a tracheostomy and I need to be suctioned every day. At night I have to be on a Bi-Pap machine which helps keep my lungs expanded.


My favorite quote is:

” To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to do.” by Kahlil Gibran

I am inspired by people that make a positive difference to the community.

My parents are my role models and have taught me the spirit of giving back. They have also instilled in me the fight to carry on despite my challenges and difficulties. Together we take joy in our many achievements.


My personal message to the world is: wake up each day with a purpose in mind and you will live life to the fullest.

Mentorship is important to me because of the guidance and inspiration it provides.

I believe support/giving back to the community is important because it brings you a joy that becomes addictive. Bringing smiles to others brings warmth to my soul.


If you were to visit my country, I would personally recommend that you visit Durban which is my favorite holiday city. I love the seaside, the long sunshine filled days, the great food and the accessible venues for entertainment.


The best piece of advice I ever received was… strive for a good education

The secret to my success is being positive.

The literature that has influenced my life includes the Quran, Malcolm X, Rumi, Time Magazine, 1001 inventions, Muslim Heritage in our world.

 source: MDSA




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