LIKENESS: Lebani Sirange, an artist who has become known for painting ‘fallen celebrity’, completes a painting of late gospel star Lundi Tyamara at his memorial held at Grace Bible Church in Soweto yesterday. Picture: Bhekikaya Mabaso
LIKENESS: Lebani Sirange, an artist who has become known for painting ‘fallen celebrity’, completes a painting of late gospel star Lundi Tyamara at his memorial held at Grace Bible Church in Soweto yesterday. Picture: Bhekikaya Mabaso
TRIBUTE: Sechaba Pali at the memorial service of Lundi Tyamara at Grace Bible Church.Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
TRIBUTE: Sechaba Pali at the memorial service of Lundi Tyamara at Grace Bible Church.Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
Lundi Tyamara
Lundi Tyamara
IN MEMORIAM: Lebani Sirange, an artist who has become known for painting “fallen celebrities”, completes his work of gospel star Lundi Tyamara at a memorial service held at Grace Bible Church in Soweto yesterday. Pictures: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
IN MEMORIAM: Lebani Sirange, an artist who has become known for painting “fallen celebrities”, completes his work of gospel star Lundi Tyamara at a memorial service held at Grace Bible Church in Soweto yesterday. Pictures: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
Lebani Sirange, an artist who has become known for painting “fallen celebrities”, completes his work of gospel star Lundi Tyamara at a memorial service held at Grace Bible Church in Soweto yesterday. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
Lebani Sirange, an artist who has become known for painting “fallen celebrities”, completes his work of gospel star Lundi Tyamara at a memorial service held at Grace Bible Church in Soweto yesterday. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

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.

“South Africa is at fault. Lundi was broken and it all because of us,” Simama said.

He added that people were mourning a one-dimensional Tyamara because the media only showed them Tyamara’s weaknesses. There were loud cheers as Sizwe Zako and Dr Rebecca Malope went on stage to speak about Tyamara. There was not a dry eye in the house when Malope took the mic. She sang a song for Tyamara saying, “Go well my son. May the Lord accept your soul.”

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.