DAWID Phillips, or affectionately known as Oom Dawie, must have been a well-known, and a well-loved person, as could be evidenced from the crowd of people that attended his funeral, not only in attendance, but also in the spirit that the people conducted themselves, and the statements people made.

This is the view of Norton Dowries, Western Cape chairperson of Costal Links SA (CLSA), who attended the funeral in the small dusty town of Port Nolloth in the Northern Cape, and who delivered a tribute to Oom Dawie, a local fisher and fishing community leader,  on behalf of CLSA and Masifundise Development Trust.

Dowries says that the fishing community, Masifundise and CLSA were well represented at the funeral.

“The South Coast, the West Coast and the North West Coast were represented at the funeral, as well as staff members of Masifundise,” says Dowries.

Oom Dawie’s funeral was typical like that of the life of a fisherman, according to Nico Waldeck, Masifundise fieldworker: “On the day of his funeral, we had all four seasons rolled into one day, which is so important to fishers,” says Waldeck.

He says that the core message of Oom Dawie’s funeral was that we are all part of a family, that nobody is and can live alone, that there is your immediate family and the broader family of the community.

“And, we saw it at the funeral, all of Oom Dawie’s family was there, his immediate family, as well as his broad family of fishers.”

Waldeck says the priest also talked about how easily it is for a family to break, many things can bring this about, and in the case of Oom Dawie, and we can see how his passing brings about pain in the family.

“We can see that Oom Dawie really played a positive role in the lives of the fishing community, by how many people came to show their last respects to him and how they conducted themselves.”

“The spirit of Oom Dawie was definitely present at the funeral, the caring that people had towards each other and the unselfish spirit of giving.”

Oom Dawie, was a fisher for more than 15 years, a stalwart of the struggle of the fishing communities struggle for decent sustainable livelihoods and the chairperson of Coastal Links in the Northern Cape.

Oom Dawie was born on 12 June 1960, and passed away on Thursday October 1, 2015. His funeral was held on Saturday October 10, from the Roman Catholic Church in Port Nolloth, and he was laid to rest at the Alfred Warne Cemetery in the town.

He was the eldest of seven children born to Johan and Sarah van Neel, and he leaves behind his parents, his two brothers and two sisters, his ex-wife Lorraine Phillips and his children, Lynette Saal, Raygen Phillips, Glen Phillips, Madeleine Phillips and David Phillips.

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