JOHANNESBURG – South African gospel artists came out in numbers on Tuesday to celebrate the life of the late musician, Lundi Tyamara, who died at the age of 38 after a battle with stomach TB and a liver condition.
At the memorial service held at the fully-packed Grace Bible Church in Soweto, industry peers such as Benjamin Dube, Sizwe Zako, Keke Phoofolo, Sipho Makhabane, Sechaba Pali awards owner Zanele Mbokazi, and many others arrived to pay their respects to the artist.
Also in attendance were musicians Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Tshedi Mholo and former South African Broadcasting Corporation boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Tyamara produced many gospel hits, most notably ‘Mphefumlo Wami’, which sold more than 300,000 copies and won him win the South African Music Award, KORA All Africa Music Award and Crown Gospel Music Award.
Gospel legend Rebecca Malope, who was Tyamara’s role model and mentor, sang a heartfelt gospel rendition that brought tears to many mourners who had gathered.
Tyamara’s former manager, Tshepo Nzimande, spoke frankly about some of the challenges that the artist battled with during his prime, including drugs and alcohol before he died on Friday.
“When Lundi hit the hard times, he said he won’t gossip or sing about other people but he will continue singing about God. When it was discovered that he had a drug problem, he called me to his house at 2am and showed me a small plastic bag with the drugs he was taking. He confessed to me that this was what finished his money and made him behave badly,” Nzimande said.
“We cannot hide those things because our artists are damaged. We need to stand up as an industry, as parents and as government and fight against substance abuse in the music industry. Even now our artists are advertising alcohol and nobody is saying anything. But when they die poor, broke and broken we laugh at them.”
Gospel artist Deborah Fraser said Tyamara, who was gay, was like a son to her and she was his trusted confidant.
“I remember he once came to me at the airport and he cried tears telling me how it pained him that he has never won a Crown Gospel Award. I told Zanele Mbokazi that Tyamara deserved to win the award and asked her to make him win the award the following year,” Fraser said.
“I also love and appreciate how supportive the gay and lesbian community has been supportive to Lundi. He was really sick. I cooked for him and fed him when he was in hospital. He knew his race was complete.”
Fraser then went on a tirade which many saw as an insinuation of what illness Tyamara suffered from.
“I would like to ask those who are sick to not stop their medication unless their doctor has advised them to. That is why I said I have secrets that I shared with Lundi. Whatever disease that you have, take your medication until your doctor advises you that your disease has been cured.”
Tyamara, who is survived by his two two children, a bother and three sisters, is set to be laid to rest at his hometown in Worcester in Cape Town on the weekend.
– African News Agency (ANA)