Popular Mafemani Simon Sambo played for top groups but died poor
The Village Voice
All pics by Black Moose Production.
Music living legend Penny Penny has tried his best to explain how the music industry works so people would understand why top sessionist Mafemani Simon Sambo aka Matsatsela died poor.
Speaking at Phaphazela Full Gospel Church on Saturday during the funeral service of the late musician Penny Penny, real names Eric Nkobane said Matsatsela was a name given to the late artist during the time they worked together putting together Penny Penny’s popular album Makhwaya 1.
“He played the lead guitar for me and I had not told him how to play but I had just composed the lyrics. But there he was, coming with a unique style,” said Penny Penny to mourners.
And the popular guitarist also played for other popular names in music such as Sam Sikiza Chauke , Florah Nwa Chauke, Sunglen Chabalala, to.mention a few.
Although he played for many artists there were a handful of artists at his funeral and except for Penny Penny who is from Giyani, most of those who came were artists from his home village and surrounding areas.
Also, he himself died poor and he had no home of himself.
He fell ill while staying at NwaMarhanga where he was staying at the home of his girl friend .
He was taken to hospital on December 23 but died on the early hours of December 24 before seeing a doctor according to the account of his family.
When he died, he was taken to the mortuary and from the mortuary his body went straight to the church hall where the funeral service was held and there was no home to take the body to wait was supposed to happen according to custom.
People made hay about how a popular musician died poor and why many artists fail to turn up to give a final honour to one of their own.
In his address, Penny Penny said although he was gifted guitarist, Matsatsela was mostly a sessionist, which means he played guitar in other people’s works.
“If you are a sessionist, you do a job and you are given a session fee, but whatever the CD will sell you will no longer be entitled to,” he said .
Penny also answered the question as to why many artists failed to turn up to bid farewell to their fallen colleague.
“The music landscape has changed with record companies having ceased to exist and artists have to devise new way of continuing their careers and it is not easy and most musicians are penniless and coming from Christmas it is worse.
“I am not justifying that many fail to come but I understand because musicians are poor,” said Penny Penny.
Collins Chabane Local Municipality mayor Shadrack Maluleke was also concerned that fellow artists failed to give Matsatsela the dignity that he deserved by attending his funeral service.
“We must love people equally when they are alive and when they have passed on and our musicians have failed to show this to one of their departed colleagues,” said Maluleke.
He said he failed to accept poverty as the reason for failing to show up at the funeral.
“Matsatsela was not an ordinary person but a top artist who worked with many people and members of the community wanted to see those people at his funeral.
“I think for our artist, time for cupping down your cheeks is over and there is time for action to improve your lot,” he said.
He said they should sit down together and compile their document and ask the government where it should help.
Family spokesperson Kaiser Mthombeni said the family was not in a position to afford the funeral because the artist had not taken a burial society.
They are grateful to Ronald Khosa, the managing director of Phaphama funerals who voluntarily agreeing to bury the dead artists and also erect a tombstone to give dignity to the dead artist.
Mthombeni also thanked mayor Maluleke for his contributions towards the burial and members of the community who worked with councillor Hlami Baloyi to raise funds for the funeral. Born at the Caca Section of Phaphazela village on January 3 1978, the musician died at Khensani Hospital on December 24.
After doing his schooling at Guwela primary where he passed grade 7, he went to Humula secondary school at Mkhomi where he dropped our at grade 10, with the music bug biting him.
He went to Johannesburg and linked up with legendary producer Patson Chauke who mentored him in the music career. He played his guitar for the following: Oscar Makamu, DJ Khwaya, Penny Penny, Percy Mfana, MK Xikatawa,Jambatani, Xitimela, Vhadau, Nozinja, Mayanda and many others.