UPDATED: Dr. Joyce Madigane passes away

Colin MacLean
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Rural P.E.I. has lost one of its champions.

TYNE VALLEY – How does one write an obituary for a person like Dr. Joyce Madigane?

The effort seems almost pointless.

Only so many stories can be told.

Only so many accolades can be listed.

Only so much love can be conveyed in words.

A page can only hold so much of a life, one reporter once wrote “reads like an award-winning movie script, full of heartbreak and triumph.”

But every movie, no matter how good, comes to end.

Dr. Madigane passed away Thursday night, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlotttetown, after a short battle with cancer.  She was 72.

She is predeceased by her husband Seaton Sidney Matimba-Majola and by her daughter Nontuthuzelo Yvonne Matimba-Majola.

Her passing has left a hole in the hearts of those who loved her.

People like Darlene Bernard.

The former Lennox Island First Nation band chief has considered Madigane to be a surrogate mother for nearly all of her adult life.

“I couldn’t love that woman more than if she had given birth to me,” said Bernard on Friday.

Madigane practised medicine in the Tyne Valley area for nearly 40 years. Whole generations of Islanders have grown up around her.

“A lot of the people in the community will say they felt like she was their mother, their grandmother – a lot of the kids called her Nana,” said Bernard.

“When you try to find a word to describe that woman the one that comes to my mind is ‘mother.’ And everything that that stands for.”

Condolences poured in Friday from across the political spectrum and everyday Islanders took to social media to tell each other how much she meant to them.

Even before her passing, Madigane greatly appreciated the outpouring of support from her community, said Bernard, and would surely be touched by all the kind words now being heaped upon her.

She said Madigane’s son, Jongile Majola, is now in the process of making arrangements, and informing her far-flung family about her passing.

There are a lot of people to inform - her life has spanned three continents.

She was born in 1941 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

It was a troubled time in that part of the world. Racial segregation was in full-swing.

But it wasn't until she moved to South Africa in 1956 to attend boarding school that she really saw the nasty nature of apartheid policies.

"When I moved to South Africa, that's when apartheid hit hard," she said. "Apartheid made you very angry," said Madigane in an interview published in 2013.

However, she found a way to make South Africa her home. She went to school there, stayed afterwards and married a South African man.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest losses this community has ever faced.”

But after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, in which 69 peaceful protesters were killed, she knew it was time to leave.

She moved home to Zimbabwe for a short time but quickly moved to England to attend medical school.

She accepted a job in Tyne Valley in 1974 and settled herself into the community.

She came to be regarded as one of the most highly respected physicians on P.E.I.  and a feisty defender of rural health care, never afraid to tell people in power what was on her mind.

Her quiet strength came to define her, and endear her to the people she served.

For her efforts, she was made a member of the Order of P.E.I. and in 2010 was named one of the top 25 immigrants in Canada. She was named Lennox Island Elder of the Year and had a Queen’s Jubilee medal.

Lynden Ellis worked with Madigane on the Friends of the Stewart Memorial Hospital committee for many years.

He said the loss of her strength will be felt immediately and profoundly.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest losses this community has ever faced,” said Ellis.

“We’ll have nobody to fight for us now.”

At the Tyne Valley Health Centre clinic that Madigane had to leave so suddenly in January to start chemo, the mood was somber on Friday, said Paul Young, primary care network manager for the area.

“Dr. Madigane was such a beacon within Tyne Valley and really a piece of the heart and soul of health care. They’re certainly feeling that loss for sure,” said Young.

Ashley Wilson of Mount Pleasant was certainly one of those people.

She is one of many in Prince County who owe a life to Madigane.

She credits the doctor’s quick thinking with saving her daughter Jazmyn’s life only nine months ago, when the baby was about six weeks old.

 “What she did … there’s no way we could ever repay her. She’s definitely my daughter’s guardian angel,” said Wilson.

Funeral services for Madigane will be announced at a later date.

Memorial donations can be made to the Stewart Memorial Healthcare Auxiliary, Canadian Cancer Society or to a charity of your choice. 

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean

Geographic location: Tynne Valley

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Recent comments

  • BUSI NDIWENI
    February 23, 2014 - 01:48

    Lala ngoxolo Qawekazi,gogo wezingane zami.God always takes the best.You are sadly missed and we will always cherish your loving care and everlasting smile.Fondly remembered,till we meet again aunty....It is well with my soul!!!!

  • BUSI NDIWENI
    February 23, 2014 - 01:39

    Lala ngoxolo Qawekazi,gogo wezingane zami.God always takes the best.You are sadly missed and we will always cherish your loving care and everlasting smile.Fondly remembered,till we meet again aunty....It is well with my soul!!!!

  • eddy
    February 10, 2014 - 22:35

    Anyone know of the funeral arrangements?

  • Simiso Jubane
    February 10, 2014 - 17:19

    What a great loss, you did really really well Auntie Joyce, u mama said how u always read from school n how good u was always number 1 - 2, it paid of. You have done Zimbabwe proud, such a credit to Canada too, God has called you to rest, its such a shame as you never had time to enjoy, worked right till the end. I met you when you came to Uk, you was so humble. May you dear son have god to guide him n comfort him during this difficult time . May you rest in perfect peace as you worked so hard n such a blessing to all. R.I.P Auntie Joyce xxx

  • Patricia Landriault
    February 09, 2014 - 13:44

    This Doctor/fine lady will be so... missed by so many people. Tyne Valley has lost it's strongest supporter. She gave much of her self, that is how much she cared for her patients. Regards to her family, she was and still is very much loved.

  • Debbie MacLellan
    February 09, 2014 - 11:20

    My Mom and Dad always commented on how much of a caring and compassionate a Doctor Doctor Madigane was. My Mom received such wonderful care from Dr Madigane when she was fighting her battle with cancer. I myself have only met Dr Madigane a couple of times but she always radiated such love and empathy towards my parents. Thank-you Dr Madigane for the support you offered my family.

  • Dr Maynard Farai Marikano
    February 09, 2014 - 10:31

    So sudden! We will look after your sister and your mother as you told me on your final admission to hospital. Miss you so RIEP

  • Samkeliso Fuyana
    February 09, 2014 - 02:19

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Jongile and Madigane family. We will always remember Aunt Joyce. The world has lost a caring sister, mother, aunt and a dedicated Human Rights Advocate. May your Soul Rest in Peace.

  • John Cuddington
    February 08, 2014 - 16:59

    Dr. Madigane was someone who features prominently in my memories of PEI. She was a lady who called it like it was and stood up for the underdog. Joyce was always kind to me and liked to share a joke. I spoke of her recently when I was in Botswana and her family name was recognized there. I am glad I knew her. I offer my sincere condolences to her family.

  • Darlene and Dave Ellands
    February 08, 2014 - 00:57

    She was a wonderful person with a big heart and a beautiful smile...she will be missed..

  • Nisha Dubey
    February 07, 2014 - 23:42

    Dr. Madigane, you were such an integral part of my life and the life of the community. Thank you for all your care and concern. You will be greatly missed. Rest in peace.

  • Tsitsi Made
    February 07, 2014 - 20:02

    Dr.Madigane is my aunt. My mother is her first cousin and returned from visiting her in December. words cant begin to express how she is missed already. Its hard to believe my kids were just talking to her and she is gone now. Our family deeply appreciates your kind words and love. She was truly a wonderful woman and the world has lost a true angel. We love you Aunty Joyce. You can never be forgotten.

  • Pastor Glynis Faith
    February 07, 2014 - 11:47

    The residents of Tyne Valley and the surrounding areas have been richly blessed by the presence of Dr. Madigane in our midst. She was a living example of the commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves, giving generously of her time and talents to make other peoples lives a little better. My prayers will be with her family and with all those who have grown to love her as family.

  • Paul & Barbara Burleigh
    February 07, 2014 - 09:50

    Our hearts are very heavy today. Dr. Madigane brought both of our children into this world and was there for all as illnesses came our way. She always took the time to get to know her patients and find out the root of the problem. I remember her making a house call to see me one time. Our prayers to Jonguile and extended family members. She is now with her sweet Non.

  • Elizabeth Joudrey
    February 07, 2014 - 09:03

    My thoughts and prays goes out to all her family and friends. R.I.P. Dr Madigane.

    • Peter-joe Bernard
      February 07, 2014 - 21:23

      I too owe a life or 2 to Dr. madigane. and there is no way I could ever repay her... she delivered me as a baby on valentines day almost 41 years ago. she would always say that I was one of her babies. when I was 17 years old, I was a victim of a hit and run and I was left for dead on the side of the road. I was told that over the next day and a half I had a couple of close calls--- fighting for my life... today I believe that it just wasn't my time to go. now looking back I could never remember a lot of the trauma, operation to operation which would save my life, but I do remember my doctor looking into my scared eyes and calmly telling me that I am going to be alright..i was asking her if I was going die.. but no matter how bad I was broken and no matter how bad the scarring was, she would always come in and say how beautiful of a person I was inside and out and tell me how strong I was... this is just what I needed to hear at the time because when I realized how bad I was hurt, I have to admit.. I wondered to myself why I fought so hard to make it.. I felt so dis-figured and ugly from my injuries.... stitches and staples all over... so young in my life and confused at why someone would do such a thing to another person...in a way there was a part of me left on the side of that road.... but to this day .. I remember my doctor picking up the pieces and helping me to become the man I am today... and you know, she was right..... I am alright, and I am a beautiful person inside and out and there is no way I can repay her for that... I love you Dr. Madigane........ RIP