Memorial celebrates late muso
Most people would be frowned upon, perhaps even kicked out, for pitching up in a vest to a memorial service, or even to dare to dance.
But, at his family's insistence, kwaito star Brown Dash's fans danced and cheered every moment they could inside the small Naledi Community Hall in Soweto yesterday.
Whereas Whitney Houston's memorial service was a sombre affair, reserved for family and industry friends only, Brown Dash's fans and neighbours rubbed shoulders with the likes of Kaizer Chiefs trio Jimmy Tau, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Reneilwe Letsholonyane, and some of music's biggest names, including DJ Cleo, Ringo Madlingozi, Prokid, Ntando and Brickz.
While at times heartbreaking, as his mother and girlfriend wept, the service also felt awkward as people excitedly snuck phone pictures of the celebrities during testimonials.
Even Generations' Thami Mngqolo, actress Liopelo Maphathe and TV presenter Andile Ncube were subjects for photographs.
But the mood rarely wavered. It was more jovial and truly a celebration of the musician's mostly happy-go-lucky approach to life as expressed in his music and videos, which were continuously played on a big screen.
Family spokesman and sister Dudu Mpamile reminisced about the kwaito star, real name Siphiwe.
"In the last couple of days, we've all been shocked and in denial, and we cried our lungs out, but he lived his life," she said.
"He also wanted to be influential through his lyrics, and I think we can agree that he did.
"And his mission in life was accomplished."
Both Ntando and Brown Dash quit TS Records (co-owned by DJ Sbu and Thembinkosi Nciza) almost five years ago.
Before lambasting the media, DJ Sbu (real name Sibusiso Leope) said: "It hurts reading a lot of negative things about him.
"Zola was the roughest township in Soweto but because of [popular kwaito stars who came from the township] Brown Dash, Mapaputsi, Mdu, Mandoza, Zola 7, and Mzambiya, there was a time when Zola [the township] ran kwaito.
"That was a generational change when a lot of kids wanted to be a kwaito star. That says a lot about his influence."