There was a jubilant spirit of praise as the worship team sang at gospel star Lundi Tyamara’s memorial service at Grace Bible Church, Soweto.
The church building was filled to capacity and Tyamara’s friends helped usher the mourners to their seats. Presenter Penny Lebyane was tasked with the responsibility of programme director, which she admitted to have declined at first.
“I didn’t want to take this duty on as I didn’t even know where I was going to start,” she said.
Reverend Gamedze shared the gospel with the cheerful crowd, reminding them that even though the ceremony was to celebrate the Mphefumlo wam hit maker, they should remember that the family is hurting. When Dr Sindile Simama went to speak on behalf of friends, they all ascended the stage in song.
Simama said that he hoped to show the people (especially the media) that Tyamara was a people’s person with a lot of true friends.
There were a few light moments as veteran musicians spoke of the threat Tyamara posed when he entered the industry. Lebyane jokingly asked Deborah Fraser if she formed part of the “conspiracy” to eliminate Malope to create space for Tyamara.
Fraser went straight for the elephant in the room when she took the podium. “I love you gay people,” she said, “because you guys are supportive and full of love.” She received a long round of applause as the LGBTI community showed their appreciation for her words.
The statement also shed light on the fact that a close friend of Tyamara, Somizi Mhlongo, was not present at the church, which is where he felt he experienced gay-bashing from a guest pastor. “I loved Lundi and we spoke about everything,” Fraser said.
The speakers that followed reiterated that Tyamara shared all aspects of himself much against their advice because they believed it made him vulnerable.
The hall was star studded with respected politicians as well as celebrated media personalities. MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Faith Mazibuko, Hlaudi Moetsoeneng; musicians iHashe Elimhlophe, Mercy Phakela, Yvonne Chaka-Chaka, Benjamin Dube, Sipho Makhabane, Tshedi Mholo and the Jaziel Brothers; actors Aaron Moloisi and Andisiwe Dwebba; and Ayanda Ncwane, wife of late gospel singer Sfiso Ncwane.