Opinionista Faith Muthambi 19 September 2016

My last moments with Mandoza – a personal tribute

Mandoza used his life as a lesson and example to many through his music, so that they may not go down the route of giving up or be caught up in the trappings of poverty and unemployment. He was undoubtedly one of our greatest musicians and his passing will leave a vacuum in our music industry.

“Mam’ Faith Muthambi, please accompany me to the stage.” These are the last words that I will forever remember Mandoza uttering to me, just over a week ago, at Orlando Stadium during the Thank You SABC Concert.

Mandoza’s extraordinary gift of music was appreciated by all South Africans. His was a music that transcended race and age. With his trademark hoarse voice, Mandoza had all of us, young and old, dancing to Nkalakatha, Godoba, Sgelekeqe, Tornado and many of his other signature songs.

All these songs mirrored the life and experiences of South Africans from all walks of life. Mandoza used his life as a lesson and example to many through his music, so that they may not go down the route of giving up or be caught up in the trappings of poverty and unemployment. He was undoubtedly one of our greatest musicians and his passing will leave a vacuum in our music industry.

It is just over a week ago that I witnessed what would be Mandoza’s last public performance. Even in his frail state, he still had all his charm and weaved his magic as he belted out some of the songs that catapulted him into the star that he was.

On that day, he yet again demonstrated his enduring commitment to his art and his great respect for his fans by showing up at a time when many would have shied away from the public glare.

One comforting knowledge is that Mandoza lived to see the efforts made by the SABC, supported by the Ministry of Communications, to honour and give respect to South African artists by increasing opportunities in the local creative industry. This commitment was brought about to support and benefit our own.

I am eternally grateful for having had the cherished opportunity of walking with you on to the stage at your last performance. I will forever remember the strength and dedication you showed. When you walked off that stage you embodied the aura of a fulfilled man. You still had so much hope and plans for the future. You spoke eloquently about how you wanted South African artists to benefit and propel themselves to the next level.

That Saturday, I could have been anywhere, but chose to come to show my support and respect of our own South African music icons – little did we know that it was to be the last time we witnessed your stage performance. You asked me to keep you and your family in prayer. Indeed, all of us who loved you and your music bow our heads in remembrance of a great man.

Mandoza, you were a son, husband, father, compatriot, a brother, and through your music, an influential teacher to all of us. May your soul rest in eternal piece. DM

Muthambi is Minister of Communications.

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