by Wakhe Sebenza
There are very few people who really live life to the fullest, this is how the late Phindile Madlala was described at her Funeral on Sunday 08.09.19 in Pinetown KwaZulu-Natal where all her friends and family gathered to pay their last respects. I know there are a lot of reasons one might not be able to attend a funeral of their loved ones, be it distance, finances or timing. I almost didn’t make it to this one too, I found myself talking to the spirit of the late saying “My friend, you understand my situation, you know I’d love to attend but you understand right?” isn’t it amazing how when our loved ones pass on we feel they are staying with us in spirit? Stepped out of view Yes, but they become more present than ever, is it just my belief?
The last time I wrote about Phindile, I was sitting with her, getting to know her, connecting with her, telling me about her dreams and aspirations. Today I’m writing about her and sadly she is no more. I know we have a list of things that we say they would make us happy, what we intend to pursue, buying that dream car, getting that dream job but what if we die before all these things come true? I think it’s time we learn not to postpone our happiness and find the little things that makes us happy, that was Phindile’s life, that’s why she was described as a person who lived her life to the fullest.
Phindile was part of the Queer family of Inkanyiso Media, conceptualized by Prof. Sir Zanele Muholi and recently worked as an educational officer for the first edition of Ikhono Lasenatali exhibition that was taking place at KZNSA Gallery. The show is currently on its second edition in Cape Town at A4 Gallery.
Inkanyiso team was at the funeral paying their last respects in all black attires, with yellow ribbons representing one of Phindile’s favorite colors, she was a lady of green and yellow. It was a sad day for everyone but we were there to celebrate a life well lived. We were there to support her family, we had an incredible program director to channel the mood of celebration. The MC was Pastor Ndlovukazi Mapule, who is a Marketing Manager and an On-Air Personality at iNanda FM 88.4 in Durban and an Author of LEAVING THE SHADOWS BEHIND, oh and she is vocally gifted as well. Ndlovukazi and her music team knew the right songs to sing for the occasion, From the well-known hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL to Phindile’s favorite song, WEBATHANDWA YENKINHLANHLA YOKUKHOLWA NGUYE UJESU, loosely translated; “You the beloved, embrace Jesus Christ and feel the warmth of his love.”
I thought I would hear about the other side of Phindile that I’m not familiar with from the speakers on the program but that was not the case, we all knew the same Phindile, a happy soul yet a cry baby. I can’t remember a time when Phindile has not shed tears on a long phone call and laugh within seconds, that’s the Phindile all her friends knew. Speakers included her beautiful daughter Lwandiswa who is in her 1st year at University. She described her mother as her best friend, she shared all the good times and funny moments they had. She knows her mother loved and wanted the best for her, she will miss her and her long calls every morning but she understands that her mother’s spirit will live with her forever. Another speaker was Phindile’s Partner, Wendy Khumalo who initially had someone to speak on her behalf but could not resist the urge to share the beautiful memories she shared with her partner.
I’ve been wondering if people really know when they are going to die, maybe the mind is not aware but the soul knows its time to go home? We also can’t tell until they are gone and we start connecting the dots that signals one knew they were going to die. When Prof. Sir Zanele Muholi shared how was their last time together in Cape Town for the opening of Ikhono LaseNatali Exhibition, a weekend before she passed on, she was the happiest, she was having the time of her life and she was grateful. I connected my dots too, her last voicenote to me was “We shall talk on the other side of town” in thought she meant Cape Town but no, we did not speak while she was there, that was her goodbyes. Muholi describes Phindile as someone who was clear with her duties and loved her work, a person who listened when Muholi needed a friend, wasn’t judgmental and really cared.
The service was led by Pastor Tebogo Moema, an openly gay pastor who is known for his tireless work within the LGBTIQ+ Community. He took up on his role to bring comfort to the family and friends, as he stated his role as pastor, he also mentioned how he knows Phindile and how he is saddened by her passing, although he was to bring comfort but he also needed that comfort too.
Phindile was laid to rest at Newlands Cemetery, she will forever be in our hearts.