Message of support delivered by the Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi during the memorial service of the Late Living Legend Mama Thandi Klaasen, Ekurhuleni City Hall, Germiston

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25 Jan 2017

Programme director

The bereaved Klaasen family;

Honourable Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi;

Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura;

Your Worship the Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Cllr Mzwandile Masina;

Our Living Legends;

Members of the Creative Industry;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen


Allow me to join fellow South Africans and the Arts fraternity in paying tribute to one of our Living Legends Mama Thandi Klaasen.

Today we are having a composed manner that is worthy of respect and honour to our living legend Mama Thandi Klaasen, a celebration of a life worth lived, a life that has experienced the most of turbulent in the political and social chapters of our time.

But most importantly a life that was part and parcel of the South Africa’s ‘golden’ and formidable creative class periods, she remains beyond a shadow of doubt a true women of valour, an unwavering women of class, and a faithful women in activism.

She has been on the cutting edge of preserving and promoting our cultural heritage whenever she made a public appearance. 

Through her life experiences and adversities Mama Thandi Klaasen epitomised a never-say-die spirit. Despite all the challenges that she faced, Mama Thandi never gave up.

Her continuous courage and resilience is one we cannot ignore in the annals of history, it stands as a mirror to every young girl out there who is faced with obstacles. She became a sustained symbol of cultural expression in the modern world

It is incumbent to other South African artists both young and old to carry on the baton with pride to ensure that we continue to build cohesive communities through song and many other arts genres. 

Her most notable ‘Sophiatown’ song can be best described as an anthology of words depicting the collective cries of our people from political and social deprivasions once faced, it summes up the history spanning long decades in less than 10 minutes.

Her form of music and culture was a type and shadow of the resistance against the ills of the past, present and future. Hence she received the National Order Award – The Order of the Baobab. The National Orders are the highest awards that the country, through its president, can bestow on its citizens or eminent foreigners.

Mama Thandi and many other Legends in this country have depicted our arts, culture and heritage for us and this is the time that we applause and narrate their contributions so that our tales as a people are recorded and preserved for generations to come.

We as Government are committed to this task that is why we have initiated the Living Legends Legacy Programme to celebrate and honour the current cohort of legends through meaningful engagements with the public. 

We will always remember her melodious voice and her love for the township lingo (Tsotsie taal) that mesmerized us for decades.

We wish to convey our deeply condolences to the Klaasen family, her friends and the South African music lovers at large.

We have lost an artistic and cultural champion of our time, we have lost a sister, a mother and an activist.

May Her Soul Rest in Peace

Heita Da!