The San community in South Africa and the TRUST project have suffered another terrible loss. On 12 May 2018, Reverend Mario Mahongo died unexpectedly in a car accident. He is the 2nd senior San Leader to die much too early whilst supporting the TRUST project. Andries Steenkamp died in 2016.

Reverend Mahongo was set to travel to Stockholm one day later, launching the TRUST Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings. The audience for the launch was the UN Leadership Council for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). Mario would have been the ideal person to launch the code. He has experienced most of the challenges, which the Sustainable Development Goals supported by the SDSN, try to resolve: extreme poverty, hunger, inadequate access to healthcare and war.

Prof. Schroeder, the TRUST Co-ordinator says: “Mario was the mentally strongest person I have ever met. He survived war, humiliation, violence, displacement, major injuries, loss of his traditional lifestyle and yet, was an advocate for peace and lobbied against bitterness, revenge and hatred. An award-winning story-teller he continued his father’s tradition of passing on knowledge through stories. I can only encourage everybody to read his autobiography, published by the Manyeka Arts Trust and entitled: “Kapilolo’s Kulimatji”. Mario liked to travel to new countries so that his and his ancestors’ traces could mingle with the traces of new people. He will now not see Sweden. However, his spiritual wisdom and his work with the TRUST group might lead to a more equitable world, in which it will be easier for future !xun leaders to travel without borders”.

The picture shows Mario enthralling a large audience at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels in 2016 (together with Doris Schroeder and Vivienne Parry). The TRUST group hopes to carry his strong spirit into future work and our thoughts are with his family, his community near Kimberley in South Africa and the South African San Institute and San Council.

Leana Snyders will bring Mario’s thoughts to the Leadership Council in Stockholm, together with Prof. Schroeder.