Remembering the “African Queen of Pop” Brenda Fassie, 18 years later

Eighteen years later, the iconic singer who gave us hits such as Weekend Special, Too late for mom and Vul’indlelaBrenda Fassie’s legacy continues on the 18th anniversary of her death.

Fassie was known as a fashion pioneer, for her stage performances, and for her consistency in making hit music from the 1980s through the 1990s.

The pop diva died on May 9, 2004, after spending two weeks in a coma. It is alleged that his death was caused by a cocaine overdose.

His death is still shrouded in mystery as his son Bongani Fassie has questioned the cause of death.

As we remember Brenda Fassie’s legacy, here’s a timeline of her life and some of her biggest career highlights.

Queen of African Pop:

Fassie, known to her fans as “Mabrr”, has become world famous as a musical icon and the queen of African pop. The success of Weekend Special and Too late for mom made her the most popular South African musician of her time.

Brenda was also known as “Madonna of The Townships” or simply “The Black Madonna” in the international media due to her popularity and catchy pop songs.

In an interview with The citizen in 2014, Yvonne Chaka Chaka said South Africans take Brenda Fassie for granted.

“She was a generous musician who lived to entertain and please the public. She always wanted to see the people around her happy and went out of her way to make that happen,” she said at the time.

Brenda has released several albums under EMI, including, It’s time, Memeza, and Nomakanjani. Most of his albums became multi-platinum sellers, like memeza was the best-selling album in South Africa in 1998.

Chaka Chaka praised Fassie’s stage performance; “No one could predict what Brenda would do when she hit the stage.

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“But she would bring the scene to life with her vibrant energy and spirit. She was born to entertain, and she did until her end. One of the most memorable performances was the sold-out concert at Ellis Park in 1985.

In her personal life, Brenda married Nhlanhla Mbambo in 1989 in a lavish wedding with three receptions. However, the couple divorced three years later in 1991.

Fight against drug addiction:

At the height of her career, Fassie became addicted to cocaine, which took a nose dive in her success.

In 1995, she was discovered in a hotel with the body of Poppie Sihlahla – her lesbian partner – who had apparently died of a drug overdose.

Brenda had several stints in rehab, but she struggled to beat the addiction.

Brenda’s death:

Brenda collapsed in her home on April 26, 2004 and was admitted to a hospital in Sunninghill, Gauteng.

Reports at the time suggested she had suffered cardiac arrest, but it was later reported that she had fallen into a coma brought on by an asthma attack.

The cause of the coma, revealed by an autopsy, was that Fassie had used cocaine excessively the night of his collapse.

The star stopped breathing and suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen.

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His son bongani doesn’t necessarily believe the cause of his death, he revealed on his own reality show, Looking for Bongani Fassie which premiered on Moja Love in June 2021.

In one episode, Bongani and her family visited her mother’s gravestone and asked the elders who made the decision to turn off life support.

He was unhappy with the answers he received, as the elders would not mention the names of those who had made the final call.

Fans remembered Brenda Fassie on social media, as many tweeted how the singer forever changed the country’s musical landscape.

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