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Brenda’s Legacy Lives On, I know!

By Mzukona Mantshontsho

Friday 9 May 2019 marks the very sad death of township Diva Brenda Fassie fifteen years ago.

When the Sunday Times turned 100 years in 2006 and as part of their celebrations, the publication embarked on an exercise to give back to South Africa. The publication was to build 40 memorial sites around the country to mark newsmakers and news events that occurred over the century and had an impact on the brand South Africa.

In total, 35 public, permanent and site-specific, narrative memorials around the country to mark the centenary of the publication were built. The publication selected local artists’ free reign to make their own unique pieces. The researchers set out to identify and develop a number of stories, characters and sites across the news board – moments in science, the art, sport, politics and society. The idea was to have a range of memories, often proud and even playful.

The project would show how history is interesting because it is always, in some way, driven by fascinating humans whether they are fearless, flawed, heroic or badly behaved or a mixture of all the above. The Sunday Times is a popular publication in the country and so their angle on the narrative memorials was to hook the reader by making the historic news events that the publication was asking people to remember.

One such an example is the Brenda Fassie life-size statue that was unveiled outside the Bassline Club in Newtown on 9 March 2009, designed by Angus Taylor. The artefacts memorials on sidewalks and even on the pathways have story plaques, on or alongside each artwork, which briefly describes the then action. The branding on the plaques is meant to give visitors some reminders or helping to each, educate, entertain and inform the public – the sites are freely accessible to the public.

The final product of Brenda Fassie is a 1.57m life-size bronze sculpture of her sitting on a stool, next to another empty stool and in front of a stand-alone microphone. The piece is mounted on a bronze stage, 350mm high with 200mm step-up. There is text superimposed on the body, all quotes by Brenda Fassie on her relationship with the media.

Speaking to the head of the Sunday Times Heritage Project at the time Charlotte Bauer said: “Brenda is still relevant because her legacy lives on, despite the fact that she is no longer with us – through her music and through this very friendly memorial. It is a human-scale statue of South Africa’s loved MABRRR!! That people passing by can literally ‘embrace’ – by hopping up on stage next to her”.

“The whole idea was to keep our chosen historical newsmakers on this project as tangible as possible. And for those youngsters who, have not heard of Brenda and her music, well, they will be able to find out simply by reading the story on the plaque. I also think that that even if you weren’t aware of Brenda, you would get a very real sense of the kind of performer she was seeing Angus Taylor’s brilliant life-size statue because the sass, the fun, the informality and something of her passion, come through in her pose, her clothes and, for the more dedicated excavator of musical history, exquisite tiny etched writing all over her body – quotes taken directly from the great diva in life”.

“History and heritage are not always about important political figures (with capital letters!!!!). The Brenda Fassie memorial shows South Africa’s playful side – Brenda Fassie made generations of music lovers Happy,” concluded Bauer.


Mzukona Mantshontsho is the founder of Nyakaza Media Solutions. Nyakaza Media Solutions is an organisation that was established to help community organisations, business entities, and schools to research, write, document, report, analyse, edit, publish newsletters or bulletins in hard-copy, on-line and maintain websites with the relevant content as per the editorial policy of that organisation, school or entity. Nyakaza Media Solutions has a vision to promote and bring dialogue to communities, businesses and schools about issues that affect them. Nyakaza Media Solutions is on a mission to develop and encourage communities, businesses and learners to celebrate the good, applaud excellence, welcome growth, strive to be better individuals, businesses and communities, want more knowledge, discourage bad and counter-productive behaviour as well as communities, businesses and learners that want to be great SOUTH AFRICANS. Nyakaza Media Solutions is making use of Yo School Magazine as a platform that learners in all schools to make use of to write their stories.

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