Farewell Dr Konji Sebati

It is indeed with a deep sense of sadness that we from the International Women’s Forum South Africa bid farewell to our beautiful, esteemed member and beloved sister, Dr Konji Sebati.

Dr Konji Sebati
Dr Konji Sebati

Dr Konji touched so many lives during her illustrious career. A medical practitioner by training, our beloved Dr Konji transformed the lives of so many ordinary South Africans in her early years when she commissioned a 200-bed hospital at Odi outside of Pretoria and ran a number of primary health care clinics. I believe that this grounding in public and primary healthcare was the foundation on which her future roles and contributions to policy and strategy in the global healthcare and pharmaceutical industry rested.

As impactful as Dr Konji was in the public sector, her influence in the private sector where she made a formidable contribution to global pharmaceutical giants Roche and Pfizer in a variety of senior leadership roles is inspirational and worthy of celebration.

Many of us fondly remember her ever present smile and the laughter and joy we shared with her. Who can forget how my smooth jazz sister added to the life of the party on a smooth jazz cruise a few years ago?

As fun and gregarious as Dr Konji was, she was also a scientist, health care worker, a consummate professional and thought leader; whether in medicine, pharmaceuticals, business or the diplomatic corp. One of our esteemed IWFSA members and a close personal friend to Dr Konji, Tina Eboka, recalls how Dr Konji Sebati as South African Ambassador to Switzerland, The Vatican and Liechtenstein, and thereafter Ambassador to France, UNESCO and the OECD., always extended a warm welcome to  South Africans in her homes across the globe. In all her roles, Dr Konji’s generous spirit and warmth made HER a diplomat par excellance and a true and genuine friend.

Dr Konji Sebati’s untimely passing at a time when the world, our Continent and our country needs her expertise and experience to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, and when we are intensifying the fight against gender-based violence and accelerating the role of women in leadership, leaves a void in the IWFSA. We must, however, find strength in her remarkable life and in the contributions she has made to light the way forward!

Our dearest Dr Konji is united now with her close friends and IWFSA legends departed: our dear sisters Dr Vuyo Mahlati and Veronica Devine.

As we bid farewell to Dr Konji, the words of the poet and philosopher, Kahlil Gibran, comes to mind when he writes: When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

May the Universe open the heavens to welcome Dr Konji warmly, and may she find peace and rest knowing the world is a better place because she has been here! MHGSREP

Thank you.

Irene Charnley
International Women’s Forum, South Africa