OPINION | V-Mash won’t get the 'national' send-off she deserves but maybe it’s better this way

09 April 2020 - 07:00
Tributes have poured in for Vinolia "V-Mash" Mashego who died, aged 56.
Tributes have poured in for Vinolia "V-Mash" Mashego who died, aged 56.
Image: Gallo Images / City Press / Lucky Nxumalo

After the initial shock and overwhelming sadness of Vinolia 'V-Mash' Mashego's death subsided I felt relieved to read the news that she would be buried surrounded by close family only. They are the ones who deserve to see her off because they saw her through it all.

The iconic TV presenter will be buried in a family-only ceremony this Friday (April 10). While, news of Vinolia's death only emerged on Monday, it's believed she died in her sleep last Friday, aged 56. 

I am aware that Vinolia being given such a private funeral is only happening this way due to the coronavirus outbreak and is in line with adhering to the rules of the national lockdown implemented to help curb the spread of the virus.

It's also no secret that the death is something no one can ever prepare for or predict. However, I feel, with no disrespect or insensitivity intended, that the timing of this death is a unique blessing in disguise.

Before you get out those pitchforks, here's three reasons to substantiate my statement. 

1. The family will not be overly burdened with arranging a “celebrity-worthy” funeral.

I buried my mother and other people close to me and I, to this day, still struggle to understand the obsession black people have with spending ridiculous amounts of money for a funeral. Everybody knows that we are the ones that have made the funeral parlour business the multi-million-rand industry it is. Nobody has explained to me why it has to be the family that is mourning that is expected to kill cows, chickens, sheep and whatever else to feed people for the whole week and then hire event organisers for a fancy send off we often can't afford. Then add a ridiculously expensive tombstone as a cherry on top.

This pressure is multiplied tenfold when you are a celebrity. The “abantu bazothini syndrome” and the pressure from social media, plus the presence of media at the funerals, doesn't help this situation at all.

I am glad that Vinolia's family can give her the dignified send-off she deserves and one that they can afford, without outside pressure.

2. We are “saved” from insincere speeches and regret-filled tributes

Vinolia had many true fans and people who may have not been her fans but understood her contribution to the industry. She also had people — who we may not even know about — that celebrated her wins and helped her through her losses. However, Vinolia also had people that used her, benefited from who she was without even an ounce of gratitude, and others who had ulterior motives. She also had people who abandoned her when she was “down and out” and people who trolled her every time she plotted a comeback.

These two groups I've described exist. They may even — in some cases — be the same people. Her death affected all of them, as it should.

Had this played out under normal circumstances, SA would have to watch people pretend to have cared and loved her deeply when their actions have already shown us the truth. The people that were V's 'ride or die' people would have been forced to hear people talk about how they regret not giving V-Mash her flowers when she lived and how they will take care of her son now that she's gone.

Which I can tell you for free, hardly ever happens.

3. This way, the government doesn't have to pretend to truly care about the black entertainer ...

I don't how the government would have acted this time. Would they send a spokesperson to deliver a speech about how they will do better by veteran South African entertainers and trailblazers? Or would they promise to rename a street or a local theatre in her honour? Would they express their regret for the lack of “proper regulations” that often see entertainers die paupers? Would they thank her family for having shared V-Mash and her multitalented self with the country but conveniently ignore the part where the government was no help to her when she was unemployed for 13 years and depressed?

So many questions. Unfortunately, all I can do is wonder about this one.

I am glad that Vinolia had made her comeback before she died. I'm glad that she kept at it because she really had the talent. May her soul rest in peace.