In loving memory of Nicholas Nomumu Simane

22 Jul 2020 - 11:15


One month ago the CCA lost a friend and colleague following complications related to Covid 19.  He had been admitted to hospital in Khayelitsha with suspected pneumonia but then moved to Groote Schuur with severe breathing problems. He was there for four days, before succumbing to the disease. 

Nicholas Simane worked at the Centre for Curating the Archive, Michaelis School of Fine Art, for over 10 years. He maintained our exhibitions workshop, and assisted students in both the CCA and the printmaking section of the school. He helped prepare significant student and staff exhibitions held at the Michaelis Galleries as well as at the District 6 Museum, the South African Museum, and other venues in the city. He restored our cabinets and frames and maintained our stock of tools and equipment. He also conserved the University’s sculpture collection, and twice a year he would make a tour of the campuses, with his specially prepared cleaning materials and wax polish, and bring back the patinas on the bronzes and clear the vegetation from the stonework.   

Prior to joining the Centre, Nicholas worked for several artists as a studio assistant. These included Cecil Skotnes and David Brown. He was a man of enormous personal integrity, and loyalty to the institution, his smile and good humour would light up the dullest day. His death is a tragic loss and he will be terribly missed by all of us at the CCA and at Michaelis. Our deepest condolences are extended to his family: his wife Phindiwe, his daughters Sindisiwe and Nonzaliseko and his son Moses, who is currently studying engineering at UCT. – Pippa Skotnes

Messages from his colleagues:

Nicholas I can't believe you're gone. It feels like you are there but I know I will never see you ever again or get to say goodbye, nor did I get closure.  I'm going to miss you so much, you were my friend in a million. We shared secrets, did everything together and the little things we did for each other I will always remember. 
This is really so hard for me to know that these things are no longer our thing. 
You were like a big brother, always watching over me. We had our moments but when we were ok, we were ok. 
Lunch on the steps will never be the same no more. I write this with tears in my eyes. 
I know God will always look over you. 
Goodbye is the saddest word to say and you will be sorely missed. – Fazlin van der Schyff

Nicholas had an infectious laugh. It would shake his entire body and crinkle his eyes. I worked with him on quite a few exhibitions which he helped install and during which he would gently advise me on the best solutions for moving and positioning works. It is a testimony to his caring nature and his generosity that he never once showed frustration for my poor grasp of physics, during these many sessions. I also had the good fortune to meet his son when he started studying engineering at UCT. On the day that Nicholas introduced us, he was brimming with pride at having him there on campus, alongside him.
I will remember Nicholas most for his kindness, though. He radiated this quality and without it, the Centre will be empty. – Nina Liebenberg

The storerooms of the CCA are a fantastical maze of relics from past exhibitions and projects, to the untrained eye these rooms may seem disorganized or chaotic, but Nicholas knew every object intimately, as he was often involved in its making, and exactly where to find them. I often think about what it will feel like when we are allowed to return to campus and without Nicholas these storerooms will no doubt feel empty and cold. 
As the lock down descended, Nicholas and I were working on a number of things together and I assumed we would continue once all this was over. His death is surreal and one that I still can’t quite comprehend. 
My condolences to his loved ones. – Jade Nair

Dear Nicholas
You were a generous, warm-hearted and gentle human being filled with bottomless laughter and love for your family and all those around you. I pray that your spirit rests in peace knowing that in the time you were on earth, you added so much love and light to it.
Love, Karen 
- Karen Ijumba

I cannot remember the number of times I came across Nicholas and asked him the same question: ‘Who has stolen your jacket again?’
He just never used to wear one, even on a typical cold and wet winter day. We would shake hands and laugh about it of course! I will always hang on to that beautiful memory.
In him I found a resilient, yet soft-spoken, colleague and big brother whom I would turn to for a good conversation. I was humbled by his kindness and compassion.
I still cannot come to terms with the fact that he is no longer with us. May His Soul Rest In Peace.- Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti

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