Sfiso's tribute concert flops

By Drum Digital
13 January 2017

Gospel artists have been accused of betraying their late friend Sfiso Ncwane by not performing at a Durban concert to pay tribute to him – but it seems the organisers weren’t willing to pay them

Gospel artists have been accused of betraying their late friend Sfiso Ncwane by not performing at a Durban concert to pay tribute to him – but it seems the organisers weren’t willing to pay them 

Musicians - including Deborah Fraser, Dr Tumi, Andile Kamajola, Lebo Sekgobela, Babo Ngcobo and Omega Khunou - were expected to perform at the annual Gospel All Stars event (titled #LetTheNcwaneLegacyContinue this year).

But they never turned up at the show, which was held at Centrum Park in Durban on New Year’s Eve. Also visibly absent were Sfiso’s widow Ayanda, her mother-in-law Fikile Irene Ncwane, and Sfiso’s sisters, Gugu and Sbahle.

Gugu says they hadn’t been informed of the concert. “We were not aware of Sfiso’s tribute concert, and we were not invited, otherwise we would have loved to have attended,” she says.

Explaining his no-show, Dr Tumi criticised the organisers: “I was looking forward to the concert but the organisers let me down. They weren’t willing to pay me for my performance, and communication was very poor.  The last time I spoke to the organisers, they promised to come back to me but failed to do so. As a result, we never agreed on payment.”

When next he heard from them, it was the day before the concert. “The day before the event they phoned me and asked if I’d be coming to Durban. I was confused because we hadn’t agreed on anything and there was no payment. There was no way I could take my band from Johannesburg to Durban to perform for free.”

Deborah said that before he passed away, Sfiso had asked her to perform at a musical event. “Sfiso asked me to be part of a concert, an annual event, and I agreed,” Deborah tells us. “When he passed away I stopped everything and didn’t take any gigs to prepare for his tribute concert. I expected to be paid a deposit but it never came through. The organisers failed to negotiate any kind of payment with me.”

Lebo confirms that she also wasn’t paid. “I indicated to event organisers that I’d need to be transported to Durban as I was performing in Botswana on that day. They never agreed to this. Instead, they promised to call me back. When they finally called, they still weren’t talking about my transport arrangements and my performance fees. “They promised to call me back but they never did.”

Omega says he turned down other gigs to perform at the concert because he wanted to “honour Sfiso” and lost out “big time” when it fell flat. “Thobile Mchunu, one of the event organisers, called me a few times, then stopped,” he says. “I tried to call them but it was difficult to get hold of them.”

Organiser Thobile denies that communication was an issue - but money was. “Communication was never a problem, but these artists are very expensive. Some of them demanded between R40 000 to R60 000, and we did not have that kind of money.

They also wanted us to pay for their transport and accommodation and we couldn’t afford that. We had used all the money for Sfiso’s funeral, so we had less than R5 000 in Ncwane Communications’ fund Sfiso’s entertainment company,” Thobile explains.

She says they then opted for artists such as Dumi Mkokstad, Betusile Mcinga and others who were willing to perform free. Asked about Ayanda ’s absence, Thobile says: “She became too emotional and decided against the idea.”

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