2019 Sep. 8: The Queen has taken her last bow: #RIPPhindileMadlala

By: Lindiwe Dhlamini

The cliché “life is too short” has never made sense to me because most of those who would use it are people who have been alive for 20 years or more. To me that is not short, it was until the untimely death of our colleague Phindile Madlala when it started to make sense. Phindile was a dedicated member of Inkanyiso.org who was working with schools around KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) educating learners about art and photography. Most of us know Phindile as Wendy Khumalo’s lover who is also a member of Inkanyiso. Both Phindile and Wendy are participants in Faces and Phases (F&P) a photographical documentation of black Queer [1] identifying people.


When the news of Phindile’s passing were circulated on the 2nd of September 2019 we were all in disbelief as most of us had just seen or been in communication with her a day before that. On Saturday; 31 August 2019 Inkanyiso crew was in Cape Town for the opening of Ikhono Lase Natali a commissioned project in collaboration with KZN based artists founded by Professor/Sir Zanele Muholi. Phindile; as one of the people working in that project was also in attendance. Wearing her favorite colors green and yellow with her forever welcoming, warm personality and smile. She did not look ill, not even a bit nor show any signs or plans of taking her last bow yet, there we were travelling to Durban to go lay her body to rest for the last time.


Most of us are worried about Wendy; losing the love of her life is not going to be easy to heal from. But, seeing how strong Wendy has been throughout the week in preparation for the funeral shows that the support she has been receiving was immense. The memories of their beautiful love are what remain and Wendy has been sharing them on her social media as a reminder of what a gem we have all lost.

Many people attended Phindile’s memorial service which was held at Nazareth Community Hall in Pinetown; KZN on the 6th of September 2019. For me; that was the first time it hit me that indeed Phindile is no more. Seeing the slideshow of her images with Wendy confirmed my deepest fear of never seeing Phindile again. Phindile and I were due to travel together to the Eastern Cape to conduct interviews with the participants of F&P for the upcoming book publication. I wish I had a chance to interview her so her story could live on along with the memories she has left us with.


We are all deeply saddened by this loss of such a wonderful soul, even the way people spoke fondly of her was testament to the person Phindile was and how she will be remembered. One of the saddest moments was listening to Phindile’s daughter Lwandisa; a beautiful young woman who is currently studying at the University of Pretoria. She spoke warmheartedly about her mother, the good and bad times and how her mother was always her pillar of strength. In fact, everyone who spoke about Phindile said how she was always supportive and loved helping people.


People showed up for Phindile’s funeral looking good to accompany the Queen to her last resting place. There were wreaths and yellow ribbons to symbolize the love Phindile had for life and others. The attendance was high further confirming that Phindile was indeed a people’s person, while all of us were still in shock of how sudden her passing was. The universe was ready to receive the Queen. Indlovukazi Mapule from Victory Ministries Church International (VMCI) was the Master of Ceremony (MC) at the memorial and the funeral service. While, Pastor Tebogo Moema conducted the last service to lay our loving Phindile to her final resting place.

Losing a loved one is one of the most painful and hardest things to experience Losing Phindile so suddenly was a reminder that no one is invincible. All that remains are memories we have shared with those we love and Phindile left us with many happy ones because of how much she loved life and being happy. Sizohlala sikuthanda kakhulu Phindile; lala ngoxolo Hlokohloko.

[1] Queer – An umbrella term to identify people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Intersex, Queer/Questioning

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