AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
Emotions were raw, the music was good and soothing. Some even managed a smile and laugh in between the tears. That was the scene when those who shared the life and times of Bob “The Jammer” Mabena gathered to mourn and celebrate him.
Mabena’s family and his employer, Power 98.7 hosted a memorial service for him. Due to strict COVID-19 restrictions, the service will be virtual. Mabena’ will be laid to rest on Saturday, after a funeral service in Centurion, Pretoria.
The memorial service followed an outpouring of tributes from celebrities, a head of state, politicians, political parties, radio DJs, and South Africans from all walks of life for Mabena.
Radio and television broadcasts across South Africa and social media platforms were also flooded with special messages for Mabena and his family.
In his special message, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “His exceptional talent and voice of reason and insight reached millions of South Africans in their homes, workplaces and vehicles. It is very sad that such an iconic and household voice has gone silent.”
DJ Fresh spoke warmly of Mabena as a mentor and friend. He said Mabena not only had the voice and the talent for radio but helped many, like him, to break into radio. DJ Fresh recalled their many trips and gigs and also spoke of Mabena style as well as swagger.
Mpho Madise, aka DJ MoG, spoke of Mabena’s humility and kindness as two of his amazing qualities. He said despite his numerous achievements, which included interviewing three presidents – Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma – his feet remained on the ground.
Broadcaster and journalist Redi Tlhabi had special words for Mabena. “You hired me as co-host of afternoon drive @kayafm95dot9 in 1999. I was a final year student & an intern at a news agency. No radio experience. You said “you are the future.” You opened THAT first door. Your faith in me was a seed. I can’t believe you have left us. #RIPBobMabena”
In his tribute, Radio personality Greg Maloka said: “Legends don’t fall…After giving clear marching orders…they REST. @Mabona_bob is a true legend.#afropolitan forever.”
Fellow broadcaster Thabo Shole-Mashao of Radio 702 said Mabena was a massive figure and a broadcaster of note. “For us, it was a dream to work with him. A radio world without Bob Mabena is just so unfair,” Shole-Mashao said.
DJ Ernest Pillay, who worked with Mabena said: “He was a brother, a friend and a fellow broadcaster. He was unquestionably one of the pioneers of urban contemporary radio of our generation. I am devastated by his passing – it cuts deep. May your soul rest in peace, my brother”.
Mabena’s passing has sent shockwaves through the media and entertainment industry in South Africa. He was a popular radio breakfast show host and had several shows on television. He presented the “Power Breakfast Show” on Power FM and worked for Metro FM and 94.7 radio stations.
Family spokesperson Winston Maimane said the family was still processing the passing of Mabena. He said Mabena had complained about not feeling well, rested at home, and went to the hospital. “I spoke to him on Sunday night and he was going to be discharged this morning. I then got a call from the wife saying that he was struggling to speak. They made a u-turn and went back to the hospital, readmitted, and two hours later, I got a call that he had passed away,” he said.
Maimane said Mabena had health issues but did not die from COVID-19. He said he got his results on Saturday that confirmed that he was negative. “He was an awesome human being,” he said.
His death comes a week after another iconic voice in SA broadcasting, Edgar “Brother ED” Dikgole was buried. It also came on the same day that another broadcaster Clifford Diseko also passed away. Mabena started his radio career at Radio Bop, in the then bantustan of Bophuthatswana and learned the tricks of the trade from Dikgole.