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DEATH OF IKE MAYET (article first published : 2002-02-12)

The name Ike Mayet has been a household name to anyone in Durban concerned with the value of books and their lasting protection.

This gentle and quietly-spoken man undertook the restoration of precious books with the unswerving meticulousness and care that one would extend to a wounded animal that needed healing. Those who knew him and respected his work will be sad to know that he passed away recently after a long illness.

In his tribute in the Independent on Saturday, Peter Machen writes that : “Mayet opened the doors of Ike’s Bookshop in Chapel Street, Durban, on August 8 1988, making him the first Indian book dealer who dealt in Africana and antiquarian books.” He goes on to say: “Ike’s maternal grandparents were of Irish-Scottish descent and in appearance Ike could have passed for white in post-1948 South Africa. But like the rest of his family he foresook the privileges this would have allowed and insisted on retaining his Indian identity.”

His health was never robust, having contracted osteomyelitis early in his life at a time when penicillin was not available. After his retirement from the engineering trade he took up book binding and soon after, restored a large number of books in the Gandhi library.

Ike’s Bookstore was at one time also situated in Overport, then in Overport City. It is now owned by Vishnu Padayachee and Julian May and is situated in Florida Road above Mama Luciana’s.

Editor’s Note: I have a set of travel/cookery books which had come apart at the binding and which Ike Mayet restored with loving care. I will never forget how he explained what he had done with the precision of a surgeon after completing a tricky operation. Also the imagery of those sensitive fingers as he traced the new binding on the books to which he had given extended life




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