David Masondo hailed as king of mbaqanga
Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development Councillor Chris Vondo joined several high-profile personalities who yesterday paid tribute to the late David Masondo, the lead singer of the legendary mbaqanga group, the Soul Brothers.
Masondo died on Sunday at the Garden City Clinic, where he was admitted a month ago after complaining of exhaustion during a performance in Port Elizabeth.
Speaking at a memorial service at the Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg, MMC Vondo recalled how the Soul Brothers, led by Masondo, had a massive following in the black townships in the 1970s despite the growing popularity of disco music.
The MMC said the music of the Ogandaganda baseNingizimu Afrika, as the group was fondly referred to by one of the most popular Ukhozi DJs, Cyril “Kansas City” Mnchunu, transcended all barriers. He said many people would recall that former Kaizer Chiefs star Frank “Jingles” Perreira was nicknamed “Mama kaSibongile” after one of the Soul Brothers’ popular hit songs. He said other tunes that set the music scene ablaze included Sdudla Ngihamba Nawe, Uthando Lam and Sikhona Isikhathi Sokujabula.
He said the Soul Brothers’ music took off at a time when most music lovers, particularly among the youth, preferred disco and other genres.
“But the Soul Brothers ensured that traditional music earned the respect it deserved, not only locally but also beyond our borders. When former president Nelson Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, in 1993, the Soul Brothers graced the occasion with a performance during their tour of the Scandinavian countries. Last year, as the City of Johannesburg, we honoured one of the founding members of this phenomenal band, Zenzele Mchunu, during the Siyabakhumbula Awards. I am humbled to say that the feedback we received from Masondo was that he was deeply touched by the City’s gesture,” MMC Vondo said.
Mabutho “Kid” Sithole, President of the Creative Workers Union of South Africa, said he was grateful that Masondo would not, unlike his contemporaries who died in poverty, be given a pauper’s funeral.
Sithole said Masondo would be given a provincial state burial he truly deserved. He, however, said he would like to see artists take positions in the boards of entities such as the SABC so they could have a say in the running of their affairs.
Speakers praised Masondo for hoisting the banner of mbaqanga music high at a time when others turned their backs against it. Professor Cosbie Mbele, Director of the Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa, who grew up with Masondo in Mofolo North, Soweto, said the musician was always down to earth.
The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department Choir and Joyous Celebration paid tribute to Masondo with performances from the top drawer. Masondo’s contemporaries in the music industry, led by William Mthethwa, Deborah Fraser, Vusi Shange and Pat Shange, gave him a resounding send-off with inspired performances of songs such as You Are Alpha and Omega and UJesu Akahlulwa Lutho.
Other artists who graced the service included Lindiwe Mthembu, Marjorie Nembembe, Nothembi Mkhwebane of Omama Besi Xaxa fame, Mahotella Queens, Condry Ziqubu, David Nkosi and Mzwakhe Mbuli.