‘Vuyo my laaitie, phola. Rest in peace’

2013-05-23 08:48

The Renaissance Centre of the SABC was packed to the rafters with hundreds of mourners who came to pay tribute to Vuyo Mbuli, the late SABC2’s Morning Live co-presenter.

About 800 people managed to secure seats inside the makeshift auditorium while some 800 more milled outside and on a floor above the hall yesterday.

South Africans from all walks of life attended – from soccer fans decked out in full paraphernalia, ANC Women’s League members to professionals.

The SABC choir performed hymns and choruses before the memorial started. Host Abbey Makoe remembered Mbuli with his childhood nickname of “Charmers”.

Bessie Tugwana, SABC2 general manager, called him a patriot who taught all to love South Africa.

Nyana Molete, national TV news editor, described him as a brother and a friend who appreciated people. He thanked Mbuli’s parents for their son.

The Morning Live cast and crew performed a cheerful rendition of the church hymn He Ba Nyorilweng (Ye Who Thirst) which they said was Mbuli’s favourite song, which he sang religiously on set.

In her impromptu tribute, co-host Leanne Manas said her heart was jumping out of her body.

“Vuyo embraced everything and embodied everything that South Africa is about. He took my hand and took me to heights in broadcasting that I never knew I could reach. I love you, my friend, thank you so much for the journey we’ve had.”

Head of news at SABC Jimi Matthews said Mbuli wanted to mentor younger colleagues and offered to be his running partner. He said Mbuli was concerned about the poor presentation skills of some colleagues and when they dressed sloppily.

Retired Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro, speaking on behalf of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, of which Mbuli has been a patron for the last seven years, said Mbulu lived a full life.

She remembered his “humongous” sense of humour and a conversational style of broadcasting.

“He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, a project of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund; a sportsman, teacher and philanthropist who loved choral music. He was the epitome of ‘mintirho ya vula vula’ (your acts speak loudly) – his favourite saying. Vuyo my laaitie, phola. Rest in peace.”

Childhood friend Dutch Mahlangu said Mbuli loved to be called Michael Jackson because of the big perm he had and remembered once, during an arduous Comrades Marathon, when he suffered cramps, he sang the traditional hymn, Morena o tseba mathata a rona (God knows our troubles). He described him as a good ball distributor on the soccer field.

Sipho Tandani, the mayor of Port Alfred promised to rename a street in the suburb of Thornhill after Mbuli.

His running club, Soweto Cabal, will have a memorial run on Saturday to honour Mbuli.

Speaking on behalf of the St Aidan Anglican Church in Yeoville, which Mbuli attended, Ntsiki Sisulu-Singaphi said Mbuli never left before the service was over and always stayed for tea and scones.

The family tributes included Thandeka, Mbuli’s sister, who described him as “a gentle soul”.

“Beautiful inside and out. Never shied away from telling it like it is. He was a hero, larger than life.” She concluded her speech by saying: “O bosso wena”, one of Mbuli’s favourite sayings.

Many musicians paid tribute by song. Swazi Dlamini performed The Lord Is My Shepherd, Ringo Madlingozi did an a cappella version of Iyeza Nakuwe.

Brian Temba performed his career-making hit Dominoes, one of Mbuli’s favourites. The Soweto String Quartet performed Amagugu Alelizwe while Jaziel Brothers sang Phind’ukhulume.

The service, which lasted five hours, was concluded with the singing of the national anthem.

Also in attendance were Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi, veteran journalist Mathatha Tsedu, broadcaster Tim Modise, Gidani chairperson Bongani Khumalo, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Dr Namane Magau, Pantsy Tlakula, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, Clayson Monyela, First Lady MaNgema, Gwede Mantashe, Sonwabile Ndamase, Jackson Mthembu, Lilian Dube, Lundi and Mapaseka Mokwele.

Mbuli’s funeral takes place at St John’s College in Houghton from 9am tomorrow and he will be buried in the Heroes Acre at West Park Cemetery.

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