As we enter 2018 we are celebrating and remembering the incredibly rich and far too short life of our dear friend and lead facilitator, Theophillus Booi. Theo was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. He was magnetic, fiercely intelligent, and a gifted artist. He chose to offer his gifts to the young people and communities of Cape Town as a creative facilitator, through Goof Edutainment, an organization he founded with his closest friends and collaborators Thandile Giyama and Siyanda Mahlahla.
Our cofounder Charlie Murphy was the first PYE facilitator to meet Theo and was immediately excited to include this brilliant young man in our network. Theo, like Charlie, had committed his life to the belief that all youth should have access to education that makes them feel alive, appreciated and open to their own gifts. Theo was a dear and precious friend and we, like many, many others, feel the deep pain of losing him suddenly. But this note to you today is to remember something that will never be lost. These are three lessons from Theo that he was always teaching not only with his words and actions but in the pulse and vibration of his being.
- You can be happy. Theo had learned through the most difficult of life circumstances that we can (and must) be happy even when we are sad and angry. The world can be viciously unfair, and there are many things we cannot control. But we can take responsibility to find the moments, even fleeting, of happiness even in the hardest times. This is how we uplift ourselves and our communities. This is the dignity of our humanity.
- Create a moment. Theo could make any moment feel exciting and dramatic, full of limitless wonder. He would remind us not to focus on comfort or following rules but to reach out to life with abandon and make a moment, a memory, no matter where we were. Even if it feels weird, even if it’s a bit scary, especially if you don’t know what will happen, jump into life with both feet. Feel into all of it. That presence creates memories, and stretches us into unknown possibility.
- If you want to be a penguin a penguin you will be! This was a line from a hilarious group song that Theo loved to lead, and he would lead it over and over again, each time more ridiculously silly than the last! But it’s also a great image for the amazing life he led. Nothing was impossible for Theo. He lived a life of magical self-belief and belief in others. If you want to be a penguin (or anything else), if you want it and focus on it and take the daily steps to create it, moment by moment…a penguin you will be.
Theo was the most amazing penguin. He lit up any space he was in. He had an uncanny ability to know exactly what to say, whether he was facilitating, cracking jokes or consoling a bereavement. Sensitive, powerful and joyous; his gifts spread very far in his twenty-six years and we are deeply happy even in the midst of terrible sadness to remember them and share a little of them with you now.
Nadia Chaney, Director of Training, Partners for Youth Empowerment