Tributes and critics to SA Gospel star: Lundi

By Sharon Kavhu

Harare – Gone but will never be forgotten. His music will continue to inspire and change people’s lives across the Southern African region.

Rest in peace Lundi Tyamara (38), you will always be remembered for exhibiting South African gospel music to the world.

That’s all this writer can say.

The South African Ministry of Arts has described Lundi Tyamara who died last week Friday, January 28, as a legend of SA gospel music who managed to emerge from ashes and rose to occasion.

Tyamara died at Edenvale Hospital, in eastern Johannesburg, where he was being treated for TB of the stomach and a liver condition.

In a statement, Minister Nathi Mthethwa said, “Lundi Tyamara’s career began as a backup vocalist, before his talent caught up the attention of gospel producer and executive Tshepo Nzimande.

“Lundi’s artistry manifested profoundly with his 1998 multi-platinum selling album ‘Mpefumlo wami’ largely devoid of traditional gospel hymns.

“Attempts to drown this great artist in negativity were evident, but like a phoenix he always emerged from the ashes and rose to the occasion.  Consequently, it is evident that Lundi took messages in songs like ‘Mina ngithembu Jesu’ to heart, as he overcame negativity through his trust in the Lord.”

Mtethwa said he had the Tyamara’s family and friends in his thoughts saying that he is praying for them.

The late Tyamara was a multi-award winner who sold more than three million copies of his albums during his career. He won several SAMA, Kora and Crown Gospel Music awards.

He started out as a back-up singer to gospel great Rebecca Malope and during his rising many said he sounded like her.

However, after years of erratic behaviours, things took a nasty turn when Tyamara lost both his parents and then long-term producer Nzimande decided to leave Bula Music.

With Nzimande gone, Tyamara had no one to turn to. His third album was a flop, but he was given a second chance when his previous stable decided to release him from his contract, and Zuz’muzi Music welcomed him, where he was reunited with Nzimande.

But unfortunately, the more successful he became the more controversy followed.

Tyamara once claimed that he was beaten up by the police in February 2015. He said they had thought he was a hijacker and that the car he was driving was stolen. After the assault cops took him to Mondeor police station.

He later laid a charge against the officers, who allegedly apologised.

He was also accused of stealing an engagement ring when Nomfundo Mthembu and her husband Sibongiseni laid a criminal charge of theft against the singer following the disappearance of a R30 000 ring.

Tyamara had apparently borrowed a jacket at a shindig held at the Mthembus’ house. The couple, who is lawyers, lent him the jacket as he was cold and afterwards realised the ring was in one of the pockets. When Lundi discovered the ring, he says, he called the couple to let them know that he had found a ring and would return it along with the jacket.

But then he was involved in a series of house moves, which resulted in him misplacing the ring.

However, after doing a thorough house cleaning, he found it in his sofa and the criminal charges were dropped.

Tyamara was at one point struggling with drugs to the extent of making headlines when he was admitted to a rehabilitation centre for drug and alcohol abuse. He even pleaded with then President Thabo Mbeki to rescue him from drug addiction. He was criticised for being gay, something most Christians think is an affront to their beliefs.

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