Tribute to Mr Edwin Wyngaard
I first met Edwin in 1991 when I entered UWC as a young man to study law. One of my earliest memories during those early years was travelling with Edwin to UCT to watch UWC play UCT in a football match. Edwin had a very open personality and was an easy person to get along with.
As I matured as a student, I often accompanied Edwin to Chess Western Province meetings as the UWC delegate. Edwin would continue to be a delegate to those meetings for a very long time. Even when I became president of Chess Western Province, Edwin still brought a student delegate and attended meetings.
One of the strengths of Edwin was his ability to read situations. He would often after the meetings have a quiet word with me if he felt that I could have handled something differently or alternatively offer a solution.
One of these challenges lay in the fact that teams sometimes could not find each other’s home venues when we played home and away. Edwin then suggested that from 2000 that we play centralised matches at UWC. He arranged for us to play in the prefab buildings OA to whatever room was available. By doing this, Edwin ensured that the WP League flourished and all teams could now find the venue on the Monday or Thursday when the matches generally took place.
One evening when Prof O’ Connell was still the rector, he walked into the prefabs and was surprised to find all these chessplayers using the facility. He, however, was proud of the fact that UWC had opened its doors. Prof O’ Connell and I laughed when he said that the doors of learning and culture will be open even to chess!
Edwin played a seminal role in the development of chess in the Western Cape. Chess was one of his codes of sport that he was responsible for. Under his leadership, UWC hosted a SASSU Championship held in the dining halls at the back of the university, a SASSU championship held in the main hall, and thereafter UWC hosted a National Club Championship in 2008 and 2017, and a South African Open championships in 2016 and part of a SA Closed Championship in 2009. By hosting these prestigious events at UWC, the community of chessplayers from Cape Town and the Western Cape benefitted because we did not have accommodation costs and other ancillary costs that we would have to pay elsewhere.
Edwin enjoyed attending functions. He was invariably the best dressed of the men. I would describe him as dapper, debonair and always friendly and helpful. Everything would always be in place including the matching tie and pocket hankey.
Edwin was a mentor to me and many other young students and adults throughout his life. We started out as student- administrator and proceeded to become friends. We were able to assist one another with advice and offer praise when praise was due.
Edwin enjoyed the successes of the dance sport code and whenever you visited his office at UWC, he would have pictures and articles of chess, dancing and boxing against the walls. He revelled in the successes of others. We often chatted about what it takes to be a good administrator. He shared many of his secrets. Respect, learn to listen, smile and make friends were some of the qualities he said sport administrators should have.
Edwin also enjoyed the cut and thrust of academia. I was happy when he continued some of his studies late in life. He enjoyed it. I still remember fondly that I gave me a copy of a paper he delivered. We were able to talk about the intellectual matters that stimulated his mind.
Edwin was very proud when they made him a Citing Commissioner for SA Rugby. He called me that week to share the news and indicate that there were a number of matches he has been requested to assist at.
Each one of us here will have our own fond memory of Edwin. For us in the Chess community it would be many. Remondo Solomons last week told me that when he informed Edwin that UWC Chess Club had won the 2021 Chess league, Edwin wept with joy. He knew what this meant for the club and the fact that UWC had won it for the first time in their 32-year history made him very proud.
Edwin has left his mark in the world. I think for me, Proverbs 27:17 describes Edwin.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens and influences a friend”. Edwin has sharpened all of us in his own indelible manner. He has mentored all of us, offered advice when we needed it and he has been there as a friend and father to all of us.
Hamba kahle, Go in peace my friend.
A big tree has truly fallen.
To Kelly and the family, thank you for sharing Edwin with us. We will miss him dearly. May the Lord strengthen all of you in this difficult period.
Dr Lyndon Bouah
Chief Director: Sport and Recreation in the Western Cape provincial Government Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport