True to her tumultuous life, the unveiling of a gravestone on Saturday for the late pop star, Brenda Fassie, has been mired in controversy.
Reports from Cape Town say that the event, attended by family, including her brother Themba Fassie, and friends, has become the topic of in-fighting among Fassie’s family, with her son, Bongani, arriving late and missing the unveiling.
Fassie died just over two years ago on the 9th of May 2004 after an asthma attack at the age of 39. Often called the “Madonna of the Townships” and “MaBrrr”, she was openly bisexual, and struggled with drug addiction throughout her career. Her hit songs included Weekend Special, Vulindlela, Black President and Nomakanjani. She was featured in a three page spread in Time magazine in 2001.
The unveiling took place at her home-town cemetery, in Langa, outside Cape Town. According to United Legal Services, the company that organised the event, Nelson Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki were expected to be in attendance, but they never arrived.
Fassie’s son also missed much of the ceremony, apparently because of flight delays in traveling from Johannesburg. However, some sources said that he was sidelined by other members of the family after being promised airplane tickets and accommodation which never materialised.
Two wreaths that were said to have been sent from Mbeki and Mandela were laid at the grave, but it remains unclear if these did in fact come from the men or their offices.
The headstone, which reportedly cost R25 000, was funded by Fassie’s record company, CCP Records. Themba Fassie said that the family was planning to erect a museum in Langa, which would house memorabilia and mementoes from Fassie’s career.