Following the passing of South African disco queen, Patricia Majalisa last week, Mmegi Staffer MOMPATI TLHANKANE linked up with BY4 group leader and the late Penwell Kunene’s fiancé Ivory Sikepe.
Ever optimistic despite the odds, she shared a story of grief, sisterhood, friendship that cuts across three decades with her ‘beautiful sister’. Stories that happened so many years ago are sometimes distant memories, but Sikepe tells her Majalisa tale like it happened yesterday.
The first time Sikepe met Majalisa as she recalls was around 1992 then later on 1993 when Sikepe joined Splash only for two months.
“Then 94 Majalisa would pick me up when she went Downtown and Soweto. So one day while I was with her at Downtown Studio she was busy talking to Dan Tshanda, Penwell Kunene came to me and asked where I stayed and asked for dials then the rest is history between myself and Penwell,” she reminisced.
She reveals that when Splash Band split around 1994, then her late fiancé Kunene and the rest of the crew joined Majalisa’s band.
“It was Penwell Kunene, Joseph Tshimange, Patrick Mthimkhulu, Albert Mthimkhulu and Peter Leotlela. Then Majalisa’s backings were myself, Martha Gidiana, Martha Nzima of Dalom Kids, Philisiwe Ngidi and the Late Crown Ludwe Maki,” she said.
Sikepe further noted that the very same year, Gallo approached Penwell Kunene to produce an album for Majalisa that is when Majalisa and Kunene decided to approach Joe Nina as well so Walimala hit album was born.
She emphasised that they have lost an umbrella for disco.
Sikepe said there were a lot of things that were going on then which she will take to the grave.
“We suffered a lot in 94 when the band split and at times we struggled for accommodation. Sometimes we would spend a night on empty stomachs. We would ask for an advance from Gallo. I will never forget that year,” she reminisced.
Sikepe said they used to arrange shows in Botswana from J’oburg and travel by bus.
“Majalisa was our strength because whenever we were together you could feel that vibe, especially during music shows. Majalisa and I were sisters and we loved each other so much. Sometimes we would disagree on some of the things, but the fact remains that we were sisters,” Sikepe reiterated.
Sikepe expressed gratitude because Majalisa believed in her (Sikepe) talent so much she would complement her musical growth.
“I wrote some of the hits on Walimala album and I
Asked about her relationship with Majalisa before her demise, Sikepe sadly revealed that what kills her most is that she last saw Majalisa in January 2019 at Dan Tshanda’s Funeral.
“I’m hurting because I couldn’t see her for the last time and chat as we always normally did. And what I liked about her is that she would tell me about whoever gossiped about me so that was my sister for you,” she said.
Sikepe also disclosed that Majalisa and her came from the same province. With many people saying Disco music has died following the death of original Splash like Majalisa, Joseph Tshimange, Penwell Kunene and Daniel Tshanda, Sikepe she holds a difference view.
“I’m not sure Disco music is dead, Majalisa has got lots of hits and people will listen to them so it can’t be dead. Dead is something that is not there at all. For example, people are still listening to Brenda Fassie, Matshikos and Splash. Majalisa’s music will live on,” she highlighted.
Sikepe added that what makes her happy is that Majalisa was still hot, powerful on stage and a crowd puller. She said Eastern Cape, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia would never be the same because they have lost their queen.
“To the fans out there who really loved Majalisa be strong and lift your eyes to the hills, God will comfort us all. Her work was out of this world. That woman was a gift from God and Dan Tshanda was a lucky man to have a wife like that one who was so talented and very loving. I will miss her so much. May your Soul Rest in Peace my beautiful sister. BY4 loves you more and I promise we are going to make you proud,” she said.
Going forward she said as BY4 they were supposed to released an album earlier this year but COVID-19 stopped them. She swore that she would honour Majalisa in some of the songs.