MaBrrr Lives Again as we Celebrate History
By Gwen Gill
|Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya and Bongani Fassie at the sculpture of Brenda Fassie in Newtown, Johannesburg. Picture: Max Berg © Sunday Times
IT was party time for the Sunday Times yet again this week, this time a bash with an historical edge - but joyous as well.
One of our 100th birthday undertakings is the Heritage Project in which prominent South Africans and local events we have covered as stories over the years, and which are part of our country's history, will be honoured with artworks erected in appropriate places.
On Thursday, a perfect late-summer evening, a very mixed crowd - showbiz, politicos, artists and media - met at the Bassline, situated among the manicured lawns (yes, really) and neat brick paving of Newtown, Joburg, to watch the unveiling of the first of the memorials.
The subject? No less than that enigmatic and much-loved late queen of pop, Brenda Fassie.
Guest of honour was Bongani Fassie, the singer's 21-year-old son who has his mum's slight frame. He sang a song called I Miss You that he'd written specially for her. This seemed to consist mostly of the words "If I hurt you, I'm sorry".
|Sculptor Angus Taylor and Bongani Fassie, son of Brenda Fassie, at the Sunday Times Heritage Project launch party, which featured the unveiling of a statue honouring Brenda Fassie at the Bassline in Newtown. Picture: Max Berg © Sunday Times
Guests included former Joburg Mayor (now councillor) Amos Masondo - and everyone had to be careful not to call him by his old title. Like many others all over the country, he's a "possible mayor-in-waiting" until next week.
Incidentally, from speeches made by Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya and Amos, it was clear that a portrait of the Orlando East home of Bethuel Mokgosinyane, founder of Orlando Pirates, will be a hit inclusion in the first Joburg Top Ten.
After the speeches, guests went outside into the warm, moonlit dusk for the unveiling of kilted sculptor Angus Taylor's exceptional bronze of our bestselling artist.
It depicts Brenda sitting on a high stool in front of a mic, wearing her typical skimpy costume plus beads and plaits for Africa. Beside it is a second stool, which I predict will wear thin as it is used by many fans in the future to have their picture taken with "MaBrrr".
(As Mondli slipped off the cloth covering the statue one naughty Sunday Times staffer was heard to say, "that's the quietest we've ever seen her".)
Get up close and you'll read many of Brenda's sayings (sometimes boastful, often humble) and stuff connected to her engraved on the statue, including the name of her hit number Weekend Special.
The favourite of Angus the artist was her quote: "My mother said I was humming the day I was born." I liked "I am Superwoman."
Caroline and Sikhumbuzo Fassie (the daughter and son of Brenda's brother) came to support cousin Bongani and the former told me that the young man has taken a lot of strain since his mum's death in May 2004.
Among the guests were some of the other artists who'll be contributing to the project, including Lewis Levin, who's responsible for the artwork of Duma Nokwe (1927-78), South Africa's first black advocate at the Joburg Bar (even before Madiba), which will be put up in Pritchard Street in the Joburg city centre.
Lewis's date was his attractive wife Dora (best-dressed, I decided, in a lovely embroidered black dress from Vietnam) and their cute daughter Dalya, nearly two, who is spoken to in French by her mum, and who sang a French song to me.
As tourism to Vietnam increases I see a lot of that part of the world's clothes (on the back of Elle editor Jacqui Myburgh, for starters). Someone should start importing them.
Best-dressed man - no doubt about it, and, anyway, Heritage project director Charlotte Bauer practically ordered me to say this - was Angus in the Taylor tartan, a pretty plaid with shades of light blue and green, above his sexy calves.
Tasty food by Faith Rubin (without the benefit of on-site water or kitchen) included lots of savoury things in pastry (don't you love pastry?) and cute cup cakes.
City manager Pascal Moloi accompanied the possible "mayor-to-be", and other attractive guests included yummy gallery owner Monna Mokoena, Joburg's always elegant director of Art and Culture Steven Sack and Dr Ivan May, the head of community station Radio Today.