There aren’t many countries that celebrate their TV continuity presenters as much as we do. And we have good reason to.
Some of our stars are born from hosting and presenting and then branch out to have careers in music, fashion and entrepreneurship.
Think Bonang Matheba and Boity Thulo, who have entire reality shows crafted around their lives.
Those who have excelled at TV presenting are usually larger than life creative forces who make an insert link or an interview seem like the moment of the decade. They’re also able to do this every week and over a long production run.
No one personified this more than Vinolia Mashego, popularly known as V-Mash.
Mashego passed away at her home in Mamelodi on April 4. It has been particularly shocking for her family, as she was not ill at the time.
Mashego caught the eye of the nation in the vibrant ‘90s where the style was rebellious and loud, so was the music. The iconic music trivia show Jam Alley on SABC1 fused all these things with Mashego and her co-presenter Nimrod Nkosi being the artistic adhesive.
It was artful presenting that allowed for the likes of Brenda Fassie, members of Boom Shaka, rapper Proverb and many more to share their lives with the viewers in a truly South African way.
It was a café, where famous people would join Mashego and Nkosi for a lively conversation that always involved the crowd – either rhythmically beating the tables or whistling – on cue as if they were under the edgy but graceful rule of a broadcasting monarch.
Her outfits were, in retrospect, so far ahead that a lot of what she wore back then today’s youngsters are still trying to catch-up with now.
She was the blueprint, and even though she was let go from Jam Alley in 2001 and faded from the limelight, her contributions were never forgotten. Mashego found her way back to our screens with small roles in shows such as Muvhango, but never quite got to enjoy the expected trajectory of someone as pivotal as she was.
At the time of her passing, she was hosting a comedic show called Bheka’mina ngedwa on Moja Love. The channel’s CEO Aubrey Tau released a statement expressing his condolences and praising Mashego’s work ethic and expertise. He then donated R200 000 to her family to cover funeral costs.
The show’s head of the script department, Mpho Lengane, spoke fondly of her colleague: “When she knew she was coming to the studio and we had to shoot, three or four days before she was already calling us to prepare for that show.
“She expected everything to always fall in line. The one way to really hurt her was when things were not going well at work. It was like stabbing her in the heart.”
Lengane said Mashego always stressed how she was happy to be working again and wanted to take the show to the top and didn’t want anything to go badly.
“She was commanding, not in a diva way, but she knew what she needed to be at her best. She was really about the doeks and African prints,” Lengane said, referring to Mashego’s wardrobe on the show.
“She wore her heart on her sleeve. She would paint the hurt for you to understand and was willing to talk about her feelings and address things in the moment in a positive way.”
Lengane said Mashego worked with a team of young people in their second or first jobs, and she saw them as her children.
“And when they faltered, she would also correct them and show them [how to do things].”
There has been an outpouring of messages of condolences and a flurry of tributes for Mashego since her passing at the weekend.
Matheba thanked Vinolia for igniting her fire:
Connie Ferguson tweeted: “Ayeye bangani ayeye! I’m numb. Didn’t want to believe this but a giant has fallen!”
Gomora actor Katlego Danke said: “She gave many permission to be unapologetic about who they are. The true definition of a star. An icon! Robala ka kagiso V-Mash.”
Larger than life personality, loud and bold and so talented you couldn’t ignore her. She gave many permission to be unapologetic about who they are. The true definition of a star. An icon! Robala ka kagiso V-Mash ?? #RIPVinoliaMashego pic.twitter.com/gSBkac8MoB— KatlegoDanke (@KatlegoDanke) April 6, 2020
Candice Modisille took to Twitter and wrote: “V-Mash was the original IT girl. Her excellence, her authenticity, her influence. Completely unapologetic. What a loss.”
These superlatives all ring true and Mashego apparently didn’t care much for titles and hierarchy, “all she saw was people”, Lengane added sombrely.
She will be buried on Friday at the Hatherley Cemetery in Pretoria.
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