The death of Patricia Majalisa last week ‘officially’ marked the end for Splash-the South African disco band which released its debut album Peacock 34 years ago and went on to become a household name.
After just a few years of breaking into the market, Splash- which Majalisa was part of right from the beginning, quickly endeared themselves to million of fans around the world. They went on to become international superstars wooing big crowds in the UK, Canada, Nigeria, France, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana.
Until last week, Majalisa was the last surviving member of the ‘original’ Splash following the demise of Joseph Tshimange in 1996, Penwell Kunene in 2009 and the band’s leader, Dan Tshanda last year.
Tshanda used to say Splash music would die with him and when news of his sudden death broke following a heart failure, his declaration seemed to become the hard truth many dreaded to believe.
He was the engine of Splash and many of us who religiously followed him and his music believed Tshanda was simply inimitable, but still found little solace in the presence of Majalisa who the was most accomplished musician to have worked with Tshanda since the 80s.
Majalisa was the band’s most popular figure after Tshanda with a talented backing band led by keyboardist and producer, Tando Zinto and drummer Enock Nkosi at her disposal.
It made sense to think that her own career would not be badly dented by her former producer’s demise and that she would be able to carry the torch forward.
Fans were still waiting with bated breath to see if she was tenacious enough to produce the kind of studio work that made her the leading female disco artiste in Southern Africa for over three decades.
That was the time when she and Tshanda combined to churn out hot numbers such as Uwee, Happy Woman and Batsha.
We all know that nothing is more certain in this world than death. But the rate at which Splash band members have been dying in quick succession in recent years is appalling.
Hence, Majalisa’s death just like that of Tshanda was a real stunner for Mapantsula who were still trying to come terms with the deaths of two other former Dalom Music stable mates.
They are Bongile Lutseke and Mpendulo Dandile who passed on in September 2019 and March 2020 respectively.
Incidentally, Tshanda was one of the first people who expressed their deep felt pain on Facebook about Thabile Mazolowane’s death in 2018 and as fate would have it, Majalisa later poured out her sorrow at Tshanda’s memorial service in Gaborone and on Facebook in 2019.
All these now departed heroes were visibly in somber mood at their band mate and Botswana’s maverick Donald Botshelo’s funeral in Pitsane in May 2011.
To this day, many of Splash fans are still struggling to come to terms with the passing of these talented artistes judging by their sentiments on social media.
But these were not the only Splash members who left this
Then followed former Dalom Kids lead singer, Petronella Masentle Rampou who died in 2000 not to forget Maxwell ‘Makhirikhiri’ Lukhele who also died just around the same time.
Born in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape 53 years ago, Majalisa fought adversity to reach the top and thus produced 13 albums in the process, most of which reached platinum status.
Her fans would recall her trademark charming smile. But behind that smile was a tough cookie, a woman who firmly stood for what she believed in, something she documented in song as she sang, “I am a woman of action and I tolerate no nonsense”.
Despite a tough childhood and not knowing her mother who abandoned her with her father as a toddler, Majalisa never stopped dreaming. At the age of 14 she rode a night train to Johannesburg in search of fame and fortune.
Sleeping on the streets for days before she could coincidently find Tshanda in Dlamini toughened her. When the two connected, not only her music career officially kicked-off, but she also found a soulmate in the former Splash leader and it was not long before the two were nested in one place.
Her career blossomed and so was their love. But a big storm awaited her. Just when Majalisa thought all would be rosy then came the bitter break-up that resulted in the stocky musician’s attempted suicide in 1991 where she was saved by slain reggae legend Luck Dube who rang the alarm before it was too late.
But she managed to fight the setback and got her career back on track. Hit albums such as Sisele Thina, Success, Lebogang Modimo and Epatini followed one after the other like bullets from a machine gun.
She also continued to pack music halls and would have fans eating out of the palm of her hand wherever she performed songs that were a mixture of fun and serious life scenarios.
It is heart-rending to note that radio personality and self-proclaimed fan of Splash Thuso ‘Thozoski’ Letlhoma who used to be MC at Splash shows and was fond of shouting these words,
“Are you ready to welcome on stage Patricia Majalisaaa!” is also no more. Although it is hard to accept that Majalisa would neither be producing any new hits, nor come on stage with her popular orange cardigan either in Molapowabojang or Lions Park, one thing is certain -she leaves behind a legacy that will last many years and continue to inspire many others musically.
In 1991 both Lucky Dube and West Nkosi saved Majalisa’s life but this time, clearly God has called one of his children and there was nothing that could stop her from finally drifting into eternity.