Whose Name is it Anyway?

Fans, friends and media hounds alike christened Brenda Fassie with a wealth of catchy nicknames.

"The kids call her the 'Queen of Kwaito', a pulsating pop style that exploded out of the townships in the early Nineties, that Fassie quickly adopted. Kwaito (slang for 'these guys are hot') fuses slowed American house and hip-hop, British garage and Jamaican reggae, held together with laid-back lines and percussions from traditional African chants."

- "The Madonna of the Townships", Time, December 17, 2001


"Once called the local 'Queen of Pop', the 'Girl with the Golden Voice', and South Africa's own Madonna..."

- "Down and out in Brenda's Hillbrow", Mail & Guardian, July 14-20, 1995


"Lionel Myles, a veteran broadcaster at former Radio Bop and Radio Thohoyandou, which was based in the homeland of Venda, claims that he coined the nickname 'Mbrrr' in reference to Brenda Fassie. 'Whenever Brenda Fassie performed in Thohoyandou, the diva preferred staying at his place instead of booking into a hotel.' Myles said he would refer to Fassie as Mbrrr when introducing her to the audience. 'But one day my daughter asked me when Mbrrr would be visiting us again and I thought this was the best name for Fassie. I started using the nickname even when playing her music on radio.'"

- "Mbrrr wasn't a bad girl - only human", City Press, May 23, 2004


"I'm Brenda and I know what I want. I'll remain MaBee kuyoze kuyovalwa (Forever)..."

- "The bad girl is back", The Star, February 26, 1998


"While her talent and influence were clearly visible then, it was Brenda's exploits out of the studio that earned her the title Black Madonna."

- "Our very own material girl", Citizen, October 24, 2000h


back to the Brenda Fassie memorial page

"I like to create controversy. I'm going to become the Pope next year. Nothing is impossible."
Brenda Fassie
Brenda Fassie, 1984
Picture: Joe Sefale © Sunday Times


Newspaper sources: An exercise in image-making

In this lesson plan, learners are asked to think about different images that the media communicate. They will see that one person can be represented in many different ways, or that one person has different sides. Brenda Fassie was a very complex person.

Lesson page
You′ll need the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader to view these lesson plans. Download it here.
Archive Photo Gallery
MaBrrr channels Madonna and other great divas.
Artwork Photo Gallery
Watch the Brenda sculpture develop from clay mould to glowing likeness of the queen of African pop.
Orbituary audio archive
Listen to SAfm/Metro FM’s obituary of Brenda, broadcast on May 10, 2004 (5’42").
Go on a 360° virtual tour of the Brenda Fassie memorial, located at Bassline, in the Newtown precinct of Johannesburg.
Madiba remembers Princess Brenda
Madiba describes his surprise when he heard Princess Brenda coming down the stairs in his house
Zola Budd Track
The Sunday Times Heritage Project’s first memorial is to Brenda Fassie, a woman variously described as the Queen of African pop and the Madonna of the Townships
Brenda Fassie and Zola Budd
MaBrrr struts her stuff and takes on taxi drivers with her big hit, “Zola Budd”