Maverick Citizen


Dr Yakub Essack — Gift of the Givers medical team leader leaves a legacy of unmatched kindness

Dr Yakub Essack — Gift of the Givers medical team leader leaves a legacy of unmatched kindness
Dr Yakub Essack. (Photo: Gift of the Givers)

Tributes have been pouring in for Dr Yakub Essack, who has for years led the Gift of the Givers medical team. Essack died on Wednesday, 1 May after suffering a heart attack. Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman paid tribute to his friend of 32 years, and neurologist and Gift of the Givers volunteer Dr Aayesha Soni paid tribute to ‘a humble legend who served humanity’.

Being a junior member of the Gift of the Givers medical team, my interactions with Dr Yakub Essack, fondly known to us younger ones as Uncle Yakub, were always pleasant. Every time we’d meet, I’d always (only half) jokingly ask that he remembers to pick me for the next medical mission, and despite my persistence, I would always be met with a warm smile and reassurance that I wouldn’t be forgotten. It was the type of smile that made you feel everything would be alright for the mere fact that he was in charge.

Reading through the messages on the core medical Gift of the Givers group, it’s clear that Uncle Yakub’s passing has left an insufferable blow and absence on all the members. There is a pervading theme that permeates all the messages of grief: Uncle Yakub’s unfaltering sincerity in serving humanity and his kindness to all those around him.

Yakub Essack

Dr Yakub Essack was a general practitioner in Gauteng. (Photo: Supplied)

As everybody recollects their fondest memories of him, a magnanimous man who played the role of a fatherly figure to many is easily built, and his willingness to always lend a helping hand to those who needed it was consistent in his personal and professional life. Working with Gift of the Givers gives you a second family, and Uncle Yakub was undoubtedly a dad to so many – a confidant, sound adviser and patient listener. He was a loving husband, father and brother too – his loss will be a huge void for his family, but a massive loss for humanity.

He paved the way to show us what it truly means to serve selflessly.

Serving as the head of the Gift of the Givers medical team for the past 32 years, including embracing the taxing role of team leader on a number of international missions, Uncle Yakub’s fierce dedication to serving humanity is what drove him. However, he managed to infuse this passion with a gentle and caring nature, making him both responsible and approachable to all those around him. This is a rare trait in a leader. His skill set in being able to assemble a group of medical volunteers and equipment efficiently and at short notice was unmatched. Uncle Yakub will always be one of the foundation blocks upon which Gift of the Givers was built – an organisation which has helped so many and through which his memory will be immortalised.

Yakub Essack

Dr Yakub Essack in Syria, April 2013. (Photo: Gift of the Givers)

Yakub Essack was a giant of a man who lived a life of sincerity, devotion to others and sincere humility – he will always remain the epitome of what the next generation aspires to be. He paved the way to show us what it truly means to serve selflessly, and will remain a constant reminder of the testament to what humble dedication and authenticity mean. 

We live merely in his footsteps, inspired immeasurably by his embodiment of the saying: “Best amongst you are those who benefit mankind.” He has left a legacy of unmatched kindness in doing so. Truly, some men are indispensable and he is one of them. – Aayesha Soni

Syria, April 2013. (Photo: Gift of the Givers)

Yakub Essack

April 2013, AR Rahma Hospital, Syria. (Photo: Gift of the Givers)

A human par excellence

Gift of the Givers pays tribute to the head of our medical team, Dr Yakub Essack, who passed on a few hours ago after suffering a massive heart attack. We remember him as a brother, friend, companion, dedicated community member, pure soul, and sincere, humble, compassionate human being, ever willing to assist the elderly, orphans, widows and just about anyone in need. He led our medical teams on numerous international missions, won the hearts of those he served, and was most approachable to team members as a counsellor in cases of secondary traumatisation.

Gift of the Givers 30th anniversary, August 2022, Wits University. (Photo: Gift of the Givers)

Syria, April 2013. (Photo: Gift of the Givers)

Ever willing to offer a listening ear, a gentle word and a warm embrace, he was a human par excellence. He has been called to the Almighty, to the Realm of Peace, Light and Blessings. May he be received with extended arms in the highest abode of bliss called Janaatul Firdose. May he be blessed and welcomed by the Almighty for his exceptional service to family, friends, community, country and humanity. We say goodbye to a most incredible human being. May the Almighty grant ease to his dear family. We were friends for 32 years. – Imtiaz Sooliman DM

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman is the founder of Gift of the Givers. Dr Aayesha Soni is a specialist neurologist and medical volunteer with Gift of the Givers.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Penny Philip says:

    What an amazing South African! Really was a man we were blessed to have & to be very proud of. Condolences & love to his family xxx

    • Jon Quirk says:

      Agree absolutely; a giant of a Man and a true giver and humanitarian. Condolences to all family and friends, they all must be immensely proud, and highly so.

    • Adriano Pellizzon says:

      May Dr. Yakub Essack rest in eternal peace. It is an honour to all South Africans to have this great man, to call our own! He was a legend and served selflessly. Deepest condolences to his family and friends and may we as South Africans continue to learn from his beautiful character and ways. May he be accepted into heaven with open arms. He will be sorely missed and is a massive loss to all in our country!

  • Eberhard Knapp says:

    Gift of the Givers – something born after 1994 which I, as a South African, will always be proud to call a South African Organisation!
    Not really any others of that high standard around…

  • Gavin Hillyard says:

    My dad always told me you get walkers, talkers and doers. Dr Essack was a doer. R.I.P. doctor

  • Marigold Buckmaster says:

    I am in awe of this incredible human being, such a giving soul! I’m sure he will never be forgotten. He stood for everything that is good in humankind and I’m sure he has inspired many to follow his lead. I have never met him but have always followed Gift of the Givers and all the good they do.
    Condolences to his family, all the team at Gift of the Givers and all who have been left poorer for his parting.

  • betsy Kee says:

    We are poorer for Dr Edaak’s passing. He truly epitomised, as does everyone linked to Gift of the Givers, what a good human is. May his family and friends find consolation in knowing that his name will live for a long time.

  • Rene Kilner says:

    The world is poorer today. Always wonder why it is that the good ones get taken and then there are ‘those’ that just ‘hang in’ there for dear life ….

  • Excited for being signed up.

  • John Murray says:

    God bless Yakub and his family!
    He was a great man and I pray his family will stay well during this sad time.

  • Les Thorpe says:

    Gift Of The Givers: What a contrast with all the other parasites and scam artists who take cover within the political parties in S.A.

    Sincere condolences to Dr Essack’s family.

  • Great loss to humanity indeed. May our Almighty grant Dr Essack the highest of abode and Jannutal Firdose. May his family be comforted during this difficult time knowing
    that his legacy lives on within this great organization.

    • Dave Buerger Buerger says:

      I am in awe of a man who was so incredible. Few humans can match this level of real humanity.
      May you RIP.

  • Lucy Buhr says:

    what a testament to the responsibilities and possibilities we have a woman and mankind… if only we remain connected to our true ability to give generously in everyway. Thank you for the exemplorary example set…

  • Dr Yakub essack…True legend will be dearly missed…
    Allah swt grant him the highest stages in jannatul firdose fill his qabar with noor and give his loved ones sabre jameel AAMEEN THUMMAH AAMEEN YA RABBUL AALAMEEN

  • Pet Bug says:

    Very sad. My condolences.

  • My heart felt condolences to family and the country at large . May his soul rest in eternal peace

  • What a special human being, rest in peace DE Essack.

  • Lebitsi Leburu says:

    Real son of the soil. R.I.P Doc.🙏🏻

  • Noel Soyizwaphi says:

    Heartfelt condolences to his family, the Gift of The Givers, the medical fraternity and South Africa at large. Uphumle ngoxolo umphefulo wakhe.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Imagine we had 400 of the likes of him in Parliament.

  • An amazing character, I didn’t know the depth that this doctor went to for his patients. If I needed help, anytime of the day or night. He knew of all our conditions and would go over and above. A great lost to humanity, but such a gain to the Almighty. Words will fail for us to describe the Good Doctor. May he be rewarded always till Janat

  • Barry Taylor says:

    What a man and what an organisation. Thank you to his family of lending him to the world
    Few of his kind in this world

  • Lesiba Langa says:

    Dr Yakub Essack is an embodiment of selfless service to humanity. The world will be a peaceful place if we have the dedication and commitment from all of us. Condolences to the family, friends and Gift of the Givers. Gift of the Givers is a South African brand. We are proud of you. God’s blessings!

  • Niven Postma says:

    What a moving tribute to a life well lived and generously given to others. May all our lives inspire the same kind of words and have the same kind of impact.

  • Peter Elvin says:

    Flew back from Cape Town alongside this gentleman on the 26 April, everyone as they disembarked wanted to shake his hand and say thank you,what a fine gentleman will be sadly missed

  • Peter Forder says:

    Dr. Yakub Essack’s passing is indeed our loss of a great man. My sympathies and condolences go out to all of his family, friends, associates and, of course to all of the Good People of “Gift of the Givers”.

    It is also opportune to acknowledge Dr Imtiaz Sooliman and all of his Team for everything that they have done in the past – worldwide. the “Gift of the Givers” is an example to all of us South African citizens as to just HOW to treat our ‘neighbours’ – no matter who they might be.

    The “Gift of the Givers” is, also, a fine example to all of us as to just HOW to ACT IMMEDIATELY – not just talking and/or pontificating and/or promising.

    Jannutal Firdose dear Doctor Yakub.

  • Danial Ronald Meyer says:

    A great South African who always placed service above self. A man worthy of emulation who will be sorely missed. MHDSRIP.

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