Text by Yaya Mavundla
Photos by Zanele Muholi
The funeral service of Iko Mash was very painful. Iko who passed away on the 21st of July 2017 was buried on Saturday the 29th of July 2017.
Her funeral service was held at Thaba-Jabula Secondly School in Soweto.
The service was scheduled to start at 8-11am and finish at 11am but due to people arriving late at the venue it went for extra 30 minutes.
The programme did not go as planned. There were a lot of people who ended up speaking in the podium who were not on the programme.
A lot of things that Iko Mash believed in was taken away from her. Most speakers did not respect who Iko was. Her grandfather who spoke on behalf of the family (who was not in the programme) said he did not know who Iko Mash was.
He constantly referred to Iko with the name of his choice. The name they have chosen for Iko at birth. Not the name she have chosen for herself and known as by many. He went on to challenge the media reports that Iko Mash was not accepted by family because of her gender. “Iko Mash was never abused by the family. He (as disrespectfully referred by him) might have been mistreated by a member of the family…maybe his uncle but was not abused” he contradicted himself.
Transphobia became a norm as two more speakers that took to the podium constantly refered to the late transgender activist as a he.
Another speaker who is a family’s neighbour, Mpho Molubi went on to proudly refer to Iko as Billy. Even though she knew that Iko was against it. She chose to turn a blind eye and disrespect Iko at her funeral service.
Programme director Criselda Dudumashe handled the service very well and it was very clear that she knew who Iko was. “Iko lived for people” said Criselda.She revived the mood. Threw a lot of tasteful jokes. She asked one speaker to say whatever he wanted to say to Iko as this was his last chance to say it. Knowing that Iko’s word was always final. She even referred to Manaka as a chief mourner. The mood in the venue changed for the better. Sadly people were just not willing to sing.
Former Metro FM publicist Happy Ngidi spoke so fondly of Iko. How Iko was dedicated and professional in everything she did. “Everytime I needed a face beat I would call Iko. She was very reliable & professional” said Happy.
She went on to say that Iko was forever on time. Regardless of what was the call time. She said even if the call time was as early as 4am Iko will be there without fail.
Judith Sephuma paid tribute to Iko with an amazing and moving performance.
Iko was known as a very welcoming individual. She took people as they are and made them better people. She inspired and mentored a lot of young girls who took part at the Sun Babe competition.
“Chief mourner” Manaka Ranaka and Siphokazi January supported every positive comments made about their friend Iko Mash. They described Iko as someone who was very opinionated and demanded attention and to be accepted. “She once went to an audition and a casting director asked Iko if she knew that the character was of a female. She responded to the casting director and said, I can’t believe there are still people who are not ready for change, and you are one of them”. Said Siphokazi.
The service was then wrapped up by Pastor Nomazwe Ntlokwana and we drover off to the cemeteries. The traffic was very bad that some people parked their cars very far and walked to the cemeteries.
Iko Mash was buried at Westpark Cemetery alongside other well known South African citizens. She is the first transgender woman to be buried at Westpark cemeteries.
I would like to extend many thanks to Virginia Magwaza who made it a point to bring a trans flag that was placed on top of Iko’s coffin at her funeral service.
I wish the obituary was done by people who really knew and loved her. What we read on her obituary did not represent who Iko was. It was NOT Iko Mash at all.
May her soul Rest In Peace, Pride and that’s how God wishes it to be.
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