Bob Mabena's family and friends recount his final moments, last texts during moving memorial

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Bob Mabena
Bob Mabena
Photo: Gallo
  • Legendary radio personality Bob Mabena died on Monday. He was 51.
  • To celebrate his life, Bob's family and POWER 98.7 invited the country to join a virtual memorial service on Thursday.
  • "When he said he cared about you, he didn't just say it; he showed you," said Melanie Bala during a stirring tribute.
  • Judith Sephuma delivered a rousing rendition of Donny Hathaway's A Song For You.

"When he said he cared about you, he didn't just say it; he showed you. Love is a verb - it's in the things you do. It's one of the things I loved about him," said Melanie Bala during a rousing tribute to Bob Mabena at a memorial service held in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The sentiment shared by his dear friend and colleague, was one echoed by every person who took to stage to pay their respects to "The Jammer".

The legendary radio personality died on Monday. He was 51 years old.

With an illustrious career spanning over 30 years, he hosted his last show on POWER Breakfast on Friday, 7 August ahead of Women's Day.

ALSO READ | Now the aching silence: Remembering radio legend Bob Mabena

Fifty family members and close friends gathered at the Power House on Thursday, to pay tribute and celebrate the life of the radio and TV giant. 

Before the service started, there was an appeal for seven guests to leave the auditorium to meet the social distancing requirements - a request one would never have expected to hear 143 days ago. 

It was not a sombre occasion, but a one filled with joy, because Bob lived a life of love and happiness. 

Before his death, Bob said that he didn't want a eulogy at his memorial because he wanted what he had achieved to speak for itself. During the three-hour service, the lasting impact Bob's kindness, support, and generosity had on the people around him was evident. 

Presenter of Power Drive on POWER 98.7, Thabiso TT Tema welcomed those in attendance into the auditorium and introduced each speaker as they paid tribute to their colleague, friend, and father. 

"Music was very much a part of Bob's life and one of the things that he loved the most," said TT, as he welcomed several artists to the podium to honour Bob through song. 

Judith Sephuma delivered a rousing rendition of Donny Hathaway's A Song For You, and after the item, she said: "He loved that song so much," before delivering a rendition of My Help Commeth From the Lord

Other musicians to deliver a musical item included Ringo Madlingozi and Mo-T. 

Many spoke of Bob's love of music, his knowledge of the subject and how he would always be the first to discover new music. 

Close friends Nothemba Madumo and Melanie Bala paid their respects. 

Nothemba recalled the last conversation she had with Bob over text message: "It was a happy conversation, and that relieves me."

She shared the last poignant message she received from him: "I mute my mic." 

"I'm incredibly nervous because this is something that I never thought that I would have to be doing," said Melanie, adding, "How do you pick a moment? How do you a pick memory?" 

She recounted an incident that happened when she was younger, and she had a stalker, saying: "I didn't know how to handle this. But Bob made it is personal responsibility, every week, after the show to make sure that I got home safely. If he had the time, he would give me lift himself to make sure I get home, and if he didn't, he would make sure that somebody took responsibility to make sure that I get home and he would check on me as well.

"When he said he cared about you, he didn't just say it; he showed you. Love is a verb - it's in the things you do. It's one of the things I loved about him," she said. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has not just changed the way we live, but the way we die, and not only are people grieving from a distance through virtual memorials but, due to strict protocol in hospitals, they are also missing out on saying their final goodbyes. 

Although Bob died in a hospital, minutes before his death he shared a final drive with his wife, Eucharist Hadebe, said Given Mkhari.

"We know that Mrs Mabena and Mabena did their date nights. And if it's not the Friday date night, then it is just a drive. So of course, it should make sense that an exit on a hospital bed would have been out of character. So yes, Monday we were getting released. Come pick me up at half-past nine. He keeps her waiting because he is waiting for his medication to go home," he says.  

He continues: "They get in that fancy machine, that car of his. She is driving, fine, and then a few minutes later, within the space of up to 7km, literally a seven-minute drive. The brother says he is feeling dizzy."

"Don't be angry at my boy, cause he is a consistent man. He still gave you what you boys and girls do - that last drive. Like TT said, that drive was with the people he was most obsessed with," Given told Eucharist. 

Bob's daughters Clementine and Sihle shared a touching tribute to their father. 

"They say every soul that's due to be born picks its parent. My siblings and I won the jackpot. Goldmine of note. The most effortlessly cool man that anyone has ever met. Loving. He used to say come home so that I can smother you with love. And he did," said Clementine. 

"He did that to everyone, every one of us. I want to be greedy and say I want more time, but he gave me the best of himself," she added. 

His daughters thanked the country for their support, with Clementine saying that she took a break from social media because it can be "rough", but instead "the love has been immense."

Joined by her siblings, she said: "Thank you for the respect you've shown us. The Jammer journey does not end here, the legacy continues, and it's in these faces." 


ALSO READ | 6 news headlines remembering Bob Mabena

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