Searching for Brenda Fassie

Tseliso Monaheng and Kagiso Mnisi speak to the editor of an edited book about South African pop star, Brenda Fassie: "I'm Not Your Weekend Special."

Bongani Madondo (Image: Tseliso Monaheng).

Often the biographical genre puts the burden of accountability on the subject been written about. It reveals little or nothing about the author. The South African journalist Bongani Madondo craftly debunks that in his sophomore project, I’m Not Your Weekend Special, an edited collection of essays penned about the siren Brenda Fassie. The book invites lesser-known individuals such as Mmabatho Selemela, to heralded impressarios, like Njabulo Ndebele and Vukile Pokwana, to sit around a proverbial fireside and unpack their experiences on Fassie. I’m Not Your Weekend Special employs the celebratory endeavors of profile writing, as well as critique, to come up with a new form of biography.

What started as a solitary journey by Madondo eventually grew into an ensemble where the contributors to the volume were challenged to strum and blow their best by laying bare their inner most feelings on MaBrr, as Fassie was widely known in South Africa. They had to bleed and reveal their insecurities as much as those of the subject. A form of language precipitates from this exercise, where by default the contributors themselves engage each other in dialogue via their respective testaments.

The result: there exists a push and pull, road heaviness (take for example, the chapter, “Searching For MaBrr In The Colony’) as well as a pacifying that sends off the spirit of Brenda Fassie, who died in 2004. The editorial allure of the book lies with its ability to connect different players. It by no means attempts to be a work of simplicity, neither does it adhere to the painstaking efforts of trying to out sell all the others at your nearest book store. It is honest work toiled over by group of friends.

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