WATCH | 'Old men will cry': Tears flow at Tsepo Tshola's melodious memorial
'I'm not sure if Lesotho will ever be the same without you – I doubt it. Go well, my friend,' says Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse in moving tribute
Family, friends and the crème de la crème of the South African music industry gathered at the Joburg Theatre on Thursday to celebrate the life and times of the late Tsepo "The Village Pope" Tshola with heartfelt memories and soothing sounds.
Tshola died on Thursday after succumbing to Covid-19-related illness.
In a ceremony live streamed on YouTube to adhere to the strict alert level 4 lockdown, veteran musicians and friends of the late Holokile hitmaker, as well as young musicians whose music was greatly influenced by Tshola, showed up to bid him a musical farewell as they celebrated his life.
The programme was directed by Duma Ndlovu.
In addition to the great music performances rendered by the likes of Thandiswa Mazwai, The Soil and Putuma in The Village Pope's honour, beautiful, emotional speeches came from the likes of Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Caiphus Semenya.
One of the most emotional moments of the day came when Mabuse struggled to hold back tears as he remembered how his friend had carried him through tough times in the past.
“This is one moment where it becomes very difficult to find the right words to speak," he began. “It's a very poignant moment, as well.
“In 1978, a colleague of mine, Selby Ntuli, died. It was just about the same time that a band called Uhuru was in SA. There was a night that we all spent together and I took Selby home after the celebration of welcoming Uhuru,” he recalled, before telling the audience that his friend had died a few hours after he had driven him home and when he heard the news, he was shocked and in denial.
Mabuse said Tshola — whom he had barely known at the time — supported him from the moment he heard the devastating news and even went as far as driving with him to Selby's place so they could confirm the news of his death themselves.
Emotions threatened to break his composure at the thought of now saying goodbye to Tshola.
“It is that moment for me, that today reminds me — that I'm here today to bid farewell to my friend, my colleague, my brother Tsepo. Because at that time, they were the ones who comforted me and they were the ones that made me feel like I should continue with this journey. I didn't know that at some stage I'd have to be here to bid farewell to him.”
Ndlovu also got emotional and admitted that Tshola's memorial was a day when people would see “old men cry”.
Tsepo will be buried in Lesotho, his country of birth, on July 30.
Watch the full memorial service below: