Johannesburg: South African Indian cinema doyen Moosa Moosa has passed away. He was 75. Moosa succumbed to a heart attack on Sunday after undergoing surgery. He was buried here yesterday according to Muslim rites.
Moosa had earned the title of being the longest-serving cinema group executive in the world, adding to the company's reputation of having the longest relationship with Hollywood production house 20th Century Fox for almost eight decades now.
In 2007 Moosa received the South African Film and Television Industry Lifetime Achievement Award. Tributes from all across the world continued to pour in for Moosa as the news of his demise spread.
Family and friends recalled how Moosa had taken over the family cinema business of the Avalon Group, started by his father 79 years ago as the first and still only Indian-owned cinema group in South Africa, after most of the 18 cinemas in the group were shut down by the draconian apartheid-era laws restricting property ownership in city centres to the minority white community.
Undeterred by this as the Avalon Group continued with just one cinema in an area designated for Indians in Durban, Moosa took on the seemingly impossible task of challenging the monopolies of white-owned major national cinema chains and won legal battles in the new democratic South Africa headed by President Nelson Mandela.
Moosa then started rebuilding the business as his son Aboobaker, popularly known as AB, also joined the business as the chief executive officer.
Currently, they have cinemas in three major South African cities where new Bollywood releases play alongside Hollywood titles every week.
"My father showed tenacity and strength in keeping alive the Avalon dream through the tough times," AB Moosa said in paying tribute to his father.
"When many had already begun to write the company's obituary, my father's resolve never wavered."
Many community leaders also paid tribute to Moosa for his support of community initiatives.
"He was always willing to support a variety of important social justice issues and always availed Avalon cinema venues for such events at no charge," said Lubna Nadvi, from the University of KwaZulu Natal's School of Social Science.
"Moosa will be justly remembered as a courageous and articulate businessman who was determined in his challenge of white monopolies in the 1980's," businessman Nirode Bramdaw recalled.