Home Travel News & Insights LESSONS FROM MY FATHER: Gift of the Givers’ Imtiaz Sooliman on his papa– ‘His actions spoke loudly, far louder than his words’

LESSONS FROM MY FATHER: Gift of the Givers’ Imtiaz Sooliman on his papa– ‘His actions spoke loudly, far louder than his words’

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Where do I begin in speaking about what I gained from my daddy? There was so much. To state that I was moulded by him is an understatement. Numerous elements of who I am today are an outcome of the individual he was, and what he taught me, through his words however far more through his everyday actions.

My dad Ismail Sooliman was born in Potchefstroom in North-West Province. His dad had actually relocated to South Africa from India and had actually established a store in Potch. Daddy followed in his steps.

When I was extremely young, my moms and dads separated. It was a bumpy ride for us, my daddy attempting his finest to take care of my 2 sis and me.

I’m going to begin with what I gained from my daddy in his position as a business person. As stated previously, it was his actions from which I discovered one of the most. His actions spoke loudly, far louder than his words.

In the general-dealer store which he ran– and which I assisted in from when I had to do with 10– the majority of his clients were black Africans, a variety of them bad. There were a few of the clients who were relatively affluent, however they were without a doubt in the minority.

The majority of the consumers who had a hard time to make ends fulfill would purchase on account; food, clothing, school stationery– all sorts. My dad would deal with every one of his clients with the very same love and the very same interest, and the exact same care. Really, they were not simply his clients, they were good friends. No matter where you originated from, or whether you were well off or really bad, he was the exact same with everybody. He brought with him the human worths of generosity and taking care of, appreciating, and assisting the bad.

It would typically take place that he ‘d have a consumer whose account was in defaults; he would state to his team member who was not sure whether to permit the stated consumer to purchase once again on credit: “Look, this household’s mom supported us for a long period of time– it’s great, provide him more things. It’s okay.” My father would understand that in all probability, he would not earn money back, yet he would still provide what individuals in financial obligation required.

And it would occur that those exact same clients, who could not settle their food account, would experience the death of among their member of the family, and they would concern him, in some cases looking rather sheepish, describing their situation. “We require cash for the funeral service,” they would state, in really modest methods, “and we require some groceries for the funeral service.”

My daddy– once again understanding the opportunities of being paid were slim– would state in the back storage place:

“Give it to them; perhaps one day they will pay.”

A few of those accounts utilized to run for years. The charm of it all is that often– as lots of as 5 years later on– somebody would come and state, “You understand what, I owed you this cash 5 years back; I’ve come to pay now.” My daddy would smile, nod, and state, “You didn’t actually need to come and pay.” The client would respond: “No– you offered me great service, and you’ve been great to me. I wish to pay. I need to pay.”

Such was my daddy’s compassion. His ethics-based worths are doing not have in our society today; he was a great good example to me and to numerous others, and he had service principles.


I enjoyed operating in my daddy’s store; I found out self-reliance, and often he ‘d pay me some cash, although I didn’t actually require it. He purchased a 2nd store and informed me, “OK, you can run this store. Do what you desire.”

I ‘d be available in after school hours and over the weekends. I had personnel working under me. My daddy provided me freedom to use my skill, to do whatever I desired in business. Often it was tough to get consumers in so I needed to exercise methods of getting them in. My daddy informed me I might price the items myself, discussing that I should not put costs expensive which I ought to be competitive. His guidance was: if individuals do not have much cash, then bring the cost down; and in some cases simply offer it to them at expense, and even listed below. In specific circumstances, you can even simply offer it to them.”

My daddy revealed me a great deal of trust when I was running his 2nd store. It is the very same worth that I constantly attempt to use in my work at Gift of the Givers: when I provide individuals chances, I rely on that they will maximize them. And if they slip up (and I understand they are going to make errors, as all of us do) then I state they need to gain from them. If it’s not a deadly error, or there’s no reputational damage, then it’s great to slip up. And I rely on that they will gain from those errors. That’s a method I gained from my daddy.


My daddy enjoyed his sport. He played some cricket as a child and was likewise a really competitive soccer gamer; the soccer was a bit prior to I was old adequate to see. He injured his ankle in a mishap and had to load it in.

In tennis, he was an extremely community-minded individual, actively associated with a tennis club through the Western Transvaal Tennis Union. I would frequently choose him to the tennis courts. We ‘d have numerous tennis competitions in Potch to which other clubs would concern complete, from locations such as Rustenburg, Mafeking and Zeerust.

It remained in tennis that I felt closest to my daddy. At the courts, it was fantastic to be with him, whether gathering the balls– or when I was older– umpiring. It was so unique simply to be with him all the time, doing easy things connected to the tennis matches and celebrations later.

At the tennis club, I would see the exact same heat and kindness of spirit in him that I observed every day in the store. The exact same regard and compassion he revealed to his consumers, he revealed to the going to tennis gamers.

Worths of old came through in the method my dad hosted. His view was a basic one: in essence, he was stating to the visitors, if you’ve come all by doing this from out of town, you should come house to consume with me; you can’t consume in the dining establishment or the café, you should pertain to my house.

In fact, that generosity was a shared, neighborhood quality. Potch, being a town, had this small-town kindness and an inviting method, and no one upheld these qualities more than my dad.

vacation The Sooliman household throughout an event
Ismail Sooliman commemorating his 78th birthday on 28 December 2015. He handed down on 21 February 2016. In the photo is Imtiaz’s sibling Razina, with relative in the background, at Imtiaz’s home in Potchefstroom. Image: Supplied by Imtiaz Sooliman

Still, on community-mindedness, there were other life lessons I gained from my dad. Here’s another example: in our neighborhood, if there was a wedding event, the household undoubtedly could not welcome everybody in the town however even if you were not welcomed, you ‘d go and assist the household established the tables and more. You ‘d do whatever that needed to be done, and after that you ‘d leave. It was the exact same with a funeral service; everybody would get included, supporting the mourning household and their buddies.

Everyone got associated with everyone else’s life, in pleased times and in unfortunate times and my papa immersed himself in service to others. In every regard, in every element, belonging to the neighborhood and assisting to construct neighborhood spirit was the crucial thing that I gained from my dad. He revealed me that you must never ever separate yourself from the neighborhood; you need to not be beyond your neighborhood. Whatever you do is– and ought to be– about and for your neighborhood.


My dad’s life was rooted in our Islamic faith. And it was he who taught me about our faith, through his words and much more so, through his deeds. He taught me much about the value of prayer. And the significance of discipline. “You need to be disciplined,” he would state.

Connected to our faith, he taught me other things, such as do not harm somebody, do not take, be great to someone else’s kid. I remember him stating that if the kid of somebody in your neighborhood was doing something incorrect, then you need to silently and sensitively inform the moms and dad: “I’m sorry to need to let you understand that you require to be conscious that your kid … (whatever the problem might be) and I believe you ought to look after your kid to guarantee this does not turn into a larger issue.”If you do that example nowadays, for instance, offer a moms and dad a heads-up about something their kid is doing– the majority of moms and dads will blow their top. They do not wish to hear you stating something about their kid, even if it’s in the kid’s benefit, and the moms and dads’ benefits too, to bring the concern to their attention. In the old days, everyone’s kids came from everyone. If somebody in the neighborhood was informed something about what their kid had actually done that they should not have actually done, no one got angered.

I understand increasingly more that a lot of these old worths which my dad handed down are missing today. That lack demonstrates how society has actually altered. We require to restore those sort of worths by which my daddy lived his life.

Taking care of one’s neighborhood was most obvious in how my daddy cared for his household.

Some context concerning our household: in the old days, we all lived in the exact same backyard; it was a prolonged household living together in what was a huge backyard. One bro and his better half resided in one cottage; another bro and his better half in another of your homes, and so on. Ultimately, when the couples had kids and it ended up being too tight and confined, then a few of the bros and their partners left. My daddy was the one left in your house and it was up to him to care for his dad and his mom. When his daddy– my grandpa– died, my dad served his mom with devotion, getting her whatever she requested. He ended up being the one she leaned on; the one she contacted us to when there were requirements in the household. My grandma may state to him, “My kid, your sis (or any household member for that matter) is in problem; she requires your assistance.”

vacation The Sooliman household
Extended household event. Image: Supplied by Imtiaz Sooliman
vacation Ismail Sooliman and his sis Hajra (who is presently ill), her hubby Mamdie (who has actually handed down), his sibling Khatija (who has actually handed down), his sis Zohra (presently ill), both sis live in Imtiaz Sooliman's home town, Potchefstroom.
Ismail Sooliman and his sibling Hajra (who is presently ill), her hubby Mamdie (who has actually handed down), his sis Khatija (who has actually handed down), his sibling Zohra (presently ill), both sis live in Imtiaz Sooliman’s home town, Potchefstroom. Image: Supplied by Imtiaz Sooliman

My daddy thought, that according to our faith, you required to care for your moms and dads and brother or sisters till they passed away, or up until the day you yourself passed away. And he did simply that, at a great deal of expenditure to himself. There were numerous difficulties along the method however he had actually provided his mom his word that he would assist his brother or sisters and other member of the family. He did simply that, up until the day he passed away, on the 21st of February 2016.He took care of many member of the family: his daddy and mom; he took care of his siblings and siblings; he took care of us, his kids. He likewise looked after my mom from whom he was separated, approximately her death in 1984, at the age of 42.

When I relocated to Durban, he would frequently call simply to look at me. I was in some cases neglectful in calling him; it needs to have been the other method around. When I got wed, he would look at me and my better half, and my kids. He would do that with all my brother or sisters, and he did it with all his bros and sis. It was actually a lesson to discover: how to care. How never ever to stop caring. I could not have actually requested for much better function modelling. He actually did his finest as a dad, as a bro and as a boy.

vacation JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, Founder of Gift of the Givers structure in February 2005. (Photo by Gallo Images/ Sunday Times/ Julian Rademeyer)
Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, Founder of Gift of the Givers Foundation in February 2005. Image: Gallo Images/ Sunday Times/ Julian Rademeyer)
vacation JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, Founder of Gift of the Givers structure with a food hinder for the Poverty Alleviation Feast at Tabankulu in the starving and malnurished Eastern Cape on 29 November 2002. (Photo by Gallo Images/ Sunday Times/ Richard Shorey)
Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, Founder of Gift of the Givers structure with a food obstruct for the Poverty Alleviation Feast at Tabankulu in the starving and malnourished Eastern Cape on 29 November 2002. Image: Gallo Images/ Sunday Times/ Richard Shorey
vacation PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA-- 27 April 2010: South African President Jacob Zuma bestows the National Silver Order of Baobab onto Imtiaz Sooliman at the Grand Patron of National Orders event kept in Pretoria, South Africa on 27 April 2010. (Photo by Gallo Images/Foto24/Liza Hnatowicz)
South African President Jacob Zuma bestows the National Silver Order of Baobab onto Imtiaz Sooliman at the Grand Patron of National Orders event kept in Pretoria, South Africa on 27 April 2010. Image: Gallo Images/ Foto24/ Liza Hnatowicz

I need to confess that I– on the other hand– have actually been really neglectful of my kids due to the fact that of the obligations I have actually handled. I have not had the ability to get it right in regards to bringing my kids up, even from the very start. When they were born, I was currently doing my internship in medication; then I was running a practice attempting to attend to my household, and after that of course I got associated with Gift of the Givers. It’s resembled this for 30 years now, and I’ve invested really little time with my kids. I simply have not had the ability to offer the very same quantity of time to them as my daddy offered to us.

It requires to be stated that the exact same worths that my dad passed on to me, my kids have actually found out from me. And naturally, they see what I do, and they all wish to be with me when that is ever possible.

vacation Imtiaz Sooliman and his boy Muhammad Rayhaan, his niece Tasmiyya, his daddy, Ismail Sooliman, at Gift of the Givers Logistics Centre in Bramley, Johannesburg, around 2015. Image: Supplied by Imtiaz Sooliman
Imtiaz Sooliman and his kid Muhammad Rayhaan, his niece Tasmiyya, his dad, Ismail Sooliman, at Gift of the Givers Logistics Centre in Bramley, Johannesburg, around 2015. Image: Supplied by Imtiaz Sooliman
vacation Imtiaz Sooliman of the Gift of Givers organisation on August 9, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Imtiaz Sooliman of the Gift of Givers organisation on August 9, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Image: Gallo Images/ Foto24/ Nelius Rademan

When my dad began his fight with cancer, I got actually near to him. I ‘d fly from Durban to Johannesburg then drive to Potch to see him. Specifically in the last 2 years, he ‘d keep requesting me to check out. He ‘d just feel comfy if I was around him. I ‘d frequently invest 6 or 7 days with him, then I ‘d drive back to Joburg, fly to Durban, land there, get in the vehicle to head house, and then I ‘d get a call from him stating that he desired me back with him. I ‘d leap on the aircraft and go back once again. He had actually lived his life in service to me; I needed to drop whatever to serve and take care of him.

vacation Zohra, Ismail Sooliman's sis, presently ill, Sattar (daddy's bro, handed down), Mamdie, bro in law, handed down, his other half Hajra, dad's sis, presently ill, Ismail Sooliman, handed down, his sis Khadija and her other half Ebrahim, both handed down, and Imtiaz Sooliman's stepmother Farida at Ismail's home in Mohadin, Potchefstroom. Imtiaz keeps in mind that this is most likely the most considerable picture in this piece. Image: Supplied by Imtiaz Sooliman
Zohra, Ismail Sooliman’s sibling, Sattar (dad’s bro who handed down), Mamdie, brother-in-law, who likewise handed down, his partner Hajra, Ismail Sooliman, his sis Khadija and her partner Ebrahim, (both handed down), and Imtiaz Sooliman’s stepmother Farida at Ismail’s home in Mohadin, Potchefstroom. Image: Supplied by Imtiaz Sooliman
vacation Ismail Sooliman and his sibling's better half, Amina, his sis Zohra, and his bro Sattar (handed down), visiting him throughout his health problem at healthcare facility.
Ismail Sooliman and his bro’s other half, Amina, his sibling Zohra, and his bro Sattar (who handed down), visiting him throughout his disease at the medical facility. Image: Supplied by Imtiaz Sooliman

Our religious beliefs teaches that a person’s moms and dads precede, and one so frequently hears individuals state: “Serve your moms and dads now, while you still can.” We have a mentor in Islam that the most regrettable individual is the individual who does not serve their moms and dads in their successor aging. For us of the Muslim faith, that is for that reason an extremely essential worth: look after your moms and dads, constantly.

Because two-year duration of his disease, I invested a great deal of time with him. I continued with my Gift of the Givers work however I focused more on seeing to his requirements since I understood he didn’t have much more years delegated deal with us.

What I had actually gained from him and had actually seen in how he had actually lived his life– in how he had actually looked after his own household– I was generally implementing, and I was returning to him. It wasn’t something I needed to be taught; I ‘d enjoyed and found out.

And when you consider the giving of worths, what I gained from him and implement in 2015 and into 2016 when he was passing away, my kids have actually gained from me, and they will pass those knowings on to my grandchildren.

I was lucky to have a dad who taught me numerous useful, real-life lessons. He taught me worths like not being inefficient, not being lavish. He taught me how to conserve cash; how to be penny-wise. He revealed me the significance of being a difficult employee, and he worried how crucial education was which I need to study hard.

And through our days in Potch on the tennis courts, I might see that sport is necessary in life, which it is essential to discover to hang out and to combine with various individuals, from various strolls of life.

The list of favorable characteristics of my daddy and his kind deeds is so long. He looked after us and never ever ignored us; he took us out according to what he might manage; he was excellent to his household, he was excellent to individuals; he didn’t snap; he didn’t consume. He was a terrific dad. I discovered a lot from him. DM/ ML

Lessons from My Fatheris a series of interviews and stories gathered and composed by Steve Anderson. Anderson has actually been a high school instructor for 32 years, 26 of them at 2 schools in East London and the previous 6 at a school in Cape Town where he directs the Wellness and Development Department and teaches English and Life Orientation. Throughout his profession, he has had an interest in the part dads play in the lives of their kids. He states: “This series is not about holding up those who are included as being ‘The Perfect Father’. It is just a collection of stories, each informed by a daughter or son whose life was, or whose life has actually remained in some method, favorably affected by their dad … And it does not remove the considerable part played by mothering figures in the shaping of their kids. Theirs are the stories of another series!

In case you missed it, likewise checked out ‘Be the very best variation of yourself’– hanging on to what my father taught me

‘Be the very best variation of yourself’– hanging on to what my papa taught me

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