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Committee member of SU’s Eoan History Project dies
Author: Wayne Muller
Published: 06/02/2014

​​A prominent committee member of Stellenbosch University's (SU) Eoan History Project has died at the age of 79. Ruth Fourie passed away on Saturday 1 February after she was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago.

Fourie was the wife of one the Eoan Opera Group's foremost baritone singers, Lionel Fourie, who died in 1963.

The Eoan Group was started in 1933 as a cultural and charity organisation for the coloured community of District Six. At first, only elocution and physical training classes were presented, but in later years the Eoan Group performed theatre, ballet and eventually operas, mostly in Cape Town.

The Eoan History Project was launched in 2008 when SU's Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS) became custodians of the Eoan Group's archive, which is now housed at the Conservatoire. This project has produced an oral history book on the Eoan Group, titled Eoan – Our Story, and a documentary film by filmmaker Aryan Kaganof, An Inconsolable Memory.

As one of the eight members of the project, Fourie played a critical role in connecting DOMUS with former artists of the Eoan Group, both in Cape Town and abroad. She conducted most of the 47 interviews with these artists for Eoan – Our Story, which was launched in January 2013.

Also as part of the project, Fourie worked on compiling a double album of historic and original live recordings of the Eoan Group's opera productions in Cape Town. Work on this album will be completed at a later stage.

Prof Stephanus Muller, Head of DOMUS, said Fourie's passing – nearly exactly a year after completing the book and the film (in which she acts as presenter) – is a deep personal loss for him.

"She was a woman who had great perseverance and courage, was loyal and stood up for her principles. Ruth encouraged us all to try harder, and she lived long enough to make sure that Eoan's history is documented for future generations. It is through people like Ruth Fourie that a future in South Africa becomes imaginable," said Muller.

Fourie's funeral is on Friday in the Methodist Church on Greenmarket Square in Cape Town. She is survived by her only son, Enrico, and two grandchildren.

  • Cinemuse will be screening An Inconsolable Memory on Thursday 6 February and Thursday 13 February at 20:00 at 5 Ryneveld Street, Stellenbosch. Phone 021 886 4842 for bookings. Read more about the film here.
  • Read more about the book Eoan – Our Story here.

CAPTION: Ruth Fourie (Photo: Aryan Kaganof); the cover of Eoan – Our Story.