I was lucky enough to meet Brenda Fassie shortly before she died in May 2004, so I can personally attest to the brilliance (and the madness) that was the enigmatic Brenda Fassie. In the short few hours that I spent with her I was both in awe and a little terrified of this huge personality. Wikipedia describes Fassie as a “South African anti-apartheid Afropop singer” and refers to her as “the Madonna of The Townships”. She was both an activist and a troubled rock star, with a cocaine addiction eventually ending her life. Fassie’s tribute to Nelson Mandela, Black President, received massive airplay after his passing in December last year, but was only one of many politically themed songs that Fassie wrote and performed. Life in the poorer areas of South Africa was also a recurring theme in her work, and Fassie was hugely popular in the townships, with her album Memeza being the best-selling album in SA in 1998.
It’s a massive loss to South Africa that the life of Brenda Fassie was cut so short, and we take a moment ten years on to acknowledge the brilliance that was Africa’s Queen of Pop!