Masekela Pays Tribute to Fassie, Ten Years On

The New Age
Zwalakhe Shangase

With South Africa celebrating the 10-year anniversary since Brenda Fassie’s tragic passing, a new book I’m Not Your Weekend Special – celebrating the legacy of the fallen icon contains interesting anecdotes from many artists including Hugh Masekela who wrote the foreword.

Masekela shared some intimate, never before heard details of how he met the legendary Fassie, his doubts about her making it in the music industry and how her tragic death has left a void in his heart.

In the foreword he writes about his first encounter with Fassie in Zimbabwe at one of the politicians mansions where he and his then wife, Jabu Mbatha, were going to meet the eclectic Blondie and Papa Makhene.

He recalls that a “brooding, teenage Brenda Fassie sat alone in a corner of the entrance hall, her face a hauntingly morose sheer, her disposition that of a pissed-off kidnapee. “In response to our friendly greeting, she acknowledged us with an attitude of disdain, arrogance and total dismissal.”

Masekela said as they sat for dinner that evening, he learnt from the table that Fassie had already had a hit back in South Africa, Weekend Special.

“I thought to myself, how the hell will she make it in the entertainment world with such a f*****-up disposition?”

His perception of Fassie changed when they met a year later in Botswana, where she was performing with her group The Big Dudes to a sold-out audience at one of the hotels.

Masekela said she exuded energy similar to that of Judy Garland and Aretha Franklin when they started out in music. He said she was a natural-born comedienne, spontaneous; a free-spirited individual with an amazing voice and someone who spoke her mind.

Masekela emotively shared: “When I began to be really cognissant of the fact that her life was at risk, I attempted several times to give what I thought was good advice; she would just laugh and scream, ‘Hayi, suka Bra Hugh, how can you even try that when we are sitting here, doing blow (cocaine) together?’

“Like Miles Davis, Miriam Makeba and Louis Armstrong who disappeared but never died, Brenda’s music will always be in our lives and she left a big void in this world,” Masekela says.