“I still love you Namibia. I told you the last time I would be back and here I am.” These were the words of late South African songbird, and Namibia’s own as well, Brenda Fassie in 1991 when she visited an independent Namibia for the first time. This week it was the star’s 12th anniversary since her death in 2004. Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro and Selma Neshiko reports from Windhoek.
One of the favourite jingles on the Omurari wOndjivisiro Ombaranga, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC)’s Otjiherero Language Service goes along the motto of “first among others and second to none”.
Literally translated this means that this service is the first to bring you whatever news or information and few of the other language services may equal it in this regard or even surpass it. To live to this self-abrogated reputation, early this week the service, was one of those stations/services in the country taking a lead in joining all and sundry in our southern African neighbouring country, particularly fans of the legendary pop diva, Brenda Fassie, in remembering her 12th anniversary since her passing on in 2004.
On Monday afternoon the Omurari’s youth programme paid special tribute to Brenda with the appearance of special youthful fans/guests remembering her during which callers were also allowed to participate in offering their fond memories of their never-say-die musical legend. It is no strange that Omuari, and Namibia at large, is remembering Brenda because Namibia can easily be termed her second home having been in the country several times and every time enduring herself more to her Namibian fans. One of her appearances was when she performed at Namibia’s independence anniversary in striking a chord with her hit, Black President. The song was a dedication to South newly elected South African president, Nelson Mandela, and as much apt for Namibian that had achieved her independence under the stewardship of Dr Sam Nujoma a few years earlier.
Local musician, Queen Latifa AKA Priscilla, who has done various cover performance of Brenda, says she misses her voice the most and her everlasting hunger for music. “I remember her bundle of fire and joy. People should remember and respect her as a great entertainer that she was.” Eli Bitzer, counsellor at the South African High Commission in Windhoek, says she remembers the star as well-known personality who is popular among broad range of listeners at the time when South Africa was in transition, people like her are very important. “Her music was a vibe that one couldn’t standstill while she was performing. Hyper active on stage known to me and friends as (#gama /goas) brown lady. Very down to earth,” says Alberina Monde, one of her Namibian fans and a socialite of those years. For Eva Tjipe, another Namibian fan, memories of Brenda conjures up memories of another long gone friend, Zaa.
The Queen of African Pop passed away on 9 May 2004‚ at the age of 39‚ when her life support machine was turned off. She had slipped into a coma and a post-mortem later revealed that she had overdosed on cocaine. Taking to Twitter‚ South African fans inundated the social media platform with messages of love and loss. A constant theme for fans has been that MaBrrr will remain forever in the hearts of those who admired her. Likewise the songbird has equally been remembered in Zimbabwe and Botswana as much as the Omurari has been constantly featuring her in between its various programmes throughout the week. Bernda was widely considered the voice for disenfranchised blacks during apartheid and known best for her songs, Weekend Special and Too Late for Mama. She was called by Time Magazine in 2001 “The Madonna of the Townships”.