5 SEPTEMBER 1989 - 18 JUNE 2020
MALINI MOHANA was a Clinical Psychologist, public health care worker, storyteller, writer, thinker, feminist and artist.
Malini was brilliant, beautiful inside and out, sarcastic, hilarious, adventurous, driven and fearless. She raged uncompromisingly against patriarchy, prejudice in all its forms and the ideologies and systems that keep our South African and global societies so uneven.
She was passionate about the psychosocial development of children, and her early career includes years at Nal'ibali, an organisation dedicated to youth, reading and learning in South African communities. Her Masters thesis, "Children's Construction of Gender: A Participartory Study" saw her take a hands-on approach to examining the construction of gender and identity in children.
In the role that came to define her as a Clinical Psychologist (M.A. UCT), she turned her expertise to serving on the front lines of community clinics in Johannesburg. She was appalled by the imbalances and apathy in the healthcare system that she was exposed to on a constant basis and she was working towards raising awareness and trying to make a change.
She was a respected thought leader, and her journalistic, academic and opinion piece work appeared throughout her career in South African and international academic publications and in news outlets including the Daily Maverick, Mail and Guardian, The Star, Mahala.com, The Sowetan, The Sunday Times, News24 and more.
Malini gave all of herself, on a professional and a personal level. She attracted goodness and touched people and lives, from her friends to her patients. She constantly set her sights on bigger and more ambitious goals, and everywhere she went she made her mark, from her years of study in KZN to six years in Cape Town and ultimately to Johannesburg.
In her 18 months there, she was achieving a new level of self-realisation and was intimately involved in projects that would have had lasting impact on mental health, healthcare workers and their support networks in SA, such as the MASKED HEROES campaign for frontline response COVID-19 care workers.
Malini lived to the fullest. She was adventurous. She took risks. She had a love for travel, and at the same time left no stone unturned in her many hometowns. Between Cape Town and Johannesburg, she had the inside track on the coolest jazz venues, foodie hangouts, best markets, festivals and events.
She was a voracious reader and cinephile and an incredible writer (although a 'prolific non-writer' in her own words). She painted and drew casually, although with characteristic natural flair. She loved getting lost on beaches, in mountains and in stars. She knew what she wanted from life, and what she didn't, and she was on a constant journey towards bettering herself. She loved hard, and she was loved hard in return, by her partner, her family and her long list of friends and colleagues.
Malini was born in Kerala, India, and raised in South Africa. She passed away unexpectedly in Johannesburg on Thursday 18 June 2020, from natural causes. She was 30 years old.
Her legacy and work live on. We are lucky to have had her.