Excerpt published with permission from Pan Macmillan South Africa publishers.

About the book:
This book is a collection on the life and times of Brenda Fassie, which includes a Foreword by Hugh Masekela and contributions from people who knew Brenda in both professional and personal capacities.

The collection includes reminiscences, criticism, elegies, essays and appreciation by friends, ex-lovers, critics, poets, academics and musicians, reflecting the endless and boundary-crossing legacy of Brenda Fassie.

Funny, crazy, poignant, insightful and tragic, I’m Not Your Weekend Special traces the highs and lows of Brenda Fassie’s life, celebrating the significance of this South African icon.

Read an extract below:

In Bed with Brenda
Taken from an interview conducted by Charl Blignaut.

We’re standing waiting outside Brenda Fassie’s home just outside Soweto, where she was at school and where she is loved by millions. We’ve been waiting since the morning to get the interview done.

At about 3:00 p.m. a latest-model red sports car comes tearing round the corner. As she swerves past and into her driveway, Brenda shouts, ‘Typical me, I’m always late!’ She’s short, stylish, energetic and brightly dressed.

We go inside. We decide to do the bedroom.

Do you mind if I lie on your bed with you? I’ll try not to mess up.
You can, but your newspaper will pay.

Who did you sue last?
I’m going to sue somebody soon, from a newspaper. Very soon. (She gestures to a beautiful girl next to her on the bed.) That’s my girlfriend.

Let’s talk about your music.
Do you want something to drink? I don’t want you to feel like an interviewer to me. Do you want something to drink?

Ja, I do. I’d love a beer.
(Calls to one of the many people around the bed.) Sweetie, send someone, I’ve got a lot of beer in my car, in the boot.

Are you the black Madonna?
Yes. I’m also the black Brenda.

Where and when did things start happening for you?
In Cape Town. I come from a very poor family. Rags to riches … Hey, why don’t you come hang around me, just hang around me here. (Two more beautiful women join her.)

These are my friends, my everyday friends, every minute friends. I teach them how to sing in my car. If they don’t want to sing, they get out and take a taxi. Okay.

I ask them to have a joint, if they don’t want they must go and sleep … I want to change, I don’t look nice in this …

So, rags to riches?
I come from a twelve-piece family, I’m number twelve. I’m the favourite at my home, I’m the breadwinner, I built my mother a beautiful home. All my brothers are all fucked up, you know.

Only one, he plays [in the band] with me, he’s sweet. I look after my mother, I don’t have a father, I’ve got six brothers. One sister of mine was born numb and dumb, she’s cute, she’s okay.

(To the BBC crew filming the interview that was part of a documentary on Brenda:)

I don’t like people standing with shoes on my mat. Do you know how much it costs to clean this mat?

I left Cape Town when I was fourteen. I wanted to go and be something. My mother was against that. Not that she was against me singing, but she was against the fact that I’m so young and wanna go to Joburg.

What I decided to do was to take my clothes outside. Every day I took my clothes outside the window until there were about four, five outfits. Then I took a plastic bag and off I went.

I came here in a Mobil truck. I wonder where are those guys?

They could have raped me, because I was so small and I was a girl, you know, and they didn’t do anything. I don’t know if they realize that the person they took is me.

Maybe their kids like Brenda, I don’t know.

And when I came here I was following Gibson Kente. I didn’t want to be in Gibson’s bus, because my mother is very … she’s too friendly with the law. After three days she didn’t see me, the law was after me.

What was the 087 line all about?
It was about this guy who was working for Drum magazine and … Because he wanted to fuck me … He wanted to fuck me and I didn’t want to, then he decided to write bad things about me.

Juuus, then I went for the public call-in service 087 – Why I’m not a bad girl to state my side of the story.

[The O87 line was a celebrity branded commercial phone-in service through which members of the public could speak to their heroes, for a fee. That’s before the Social Media Age.]

That’s journalism for you.
That’s journalism for us. I don’t mind, I made money, a lot. After … You know I was married, right?

How many times?
Once. I’m getting married five times more. I don’t mind what kind of sex I’m getting married to. Beers! (More beer arrives.)

I think you must give them a call and Hansa can sponsor me. I drink Hansa all the time.
(She calls to someone.)

And I told you not to put my brandy in the wardrobe, because this is my house, you don’t have to hide my things, dis my huis hierdie, okay? [It’s my house this, okay?]

So we were getting to Joburg and Gibson Kente.
Yes. He taught me some little tips about music. I give thanks to him, right.

He helped you up.
Yes. He would also put me on his knee. But he had a phuza face … Ugh.

How old were you?
I was, I’m sure, nineteen. And then I met Babsy Mlangeni, and blind as he is, he took me to school. And I was at school for three years. Always number one. You can go to my school, I can take you to my school now, in Soweto. I always go there now I’m a … a …

A star.
A star. I’m a moon. Unlike Sipho Mabuse I’m not burning out, I’m burning up. Then I got bored with school.

I know the feeling.
You know, because I wanted to sing, man. I went away and slept wherever dawn found me, even at bus stops I used to sleep, me, as long as I can close my eyes.

But you know why I had that strength? Because you just don’t mess around with me.

Okay, you just leave me alone. I’m a very energetic person and I’m very straight and I’m not a coward. I’ve always looked after myself. God was next to me.

Groovy.
That time God came next to me and said, ‘Hey chick, woman, come here, let me show you what you are supposed to be.’

Then I met Blondie Makhene. Blondie spoke to EMI, said EMI, here’s a little kaffertjie hierso, sy kan sing, asseblief man, gee haar ’n kans.

[… here’s a little kaffir here, she can sing, please man, give her a chance].

EMI said no, but the budget, the budget. Eventually they said okay fine, six thousand, is that okay? With six thousand we made the record ‘Weekend Special’. That’s how we got the party started.

From ‘Weekend Special’ I was made. Promoting that album was very hard. I used to ask everybody, ‘Do you know who’s singing there?’ And they say no and I’d say, ‘It’s me!’ And they’d look at me and I was so ugly, I didn’t have teeth.

I remember Jani Allen wrote an article [in the Sunday Times] about me and said I looked like a horse. Well, look at her now. Jani Allen said: ‘I reckon she looks like a horse, but she’s got a beautiful voice.’

That album was wonderful. Everybody thought it was an American album, and it was Brenda.

I’d go to these shebeens in Soweto, I used to put beer crates out and make a stage and think I don’t care if you’re listening or not, I am singing and I’m sure you’re going to listen just for one minute.

You’d say, ‘Ag, who’s this?’ but at the same time you go, ‘Wow … waaw … that’s nice.’ Then it was Brenda. I was made, I mean known – I’m not made yet. I want a double-storey house.

Then I got married.

Did you ask him to marry you?
Yes. I paid lobola for him. Because I loved him. I was sick and tired of … In Bloemfontein I had a boyfriend, in Cape Town I had a boyfriend … no. Then I thought no man, I’m going to be wrecked by the time I … and thanks AIDS was not in South Africa yet.

You had a massive wedding.
The best. Better than Zindzi Mandela’s wedding. Did you see Zindzi’s wedding dress?
Just a bad photo.

Do you want to see my wedding dress? I can wear it now!

Yes, let’s see your wedding dress, great.
You want me to wear it? Okay. And Yvonne Chaka Chaka was … my bridesmaid. And she didn’t invite me to her wedding. (She gestures at her wedding dress.)
Oh, Beauutiful.

Is it like Queen-of-South-African-pop kind of stuff?
Who’s the queen and who’s the princess?

She’s the princess, honey. Yvonne.
Oh, but she can’t sing. Yvonne screams. I don’t look down on people like she does.

This you could put in the paper. She wants to know that you are Oppenheimer’s son, that’s why she can be friends with you. She forgets where she comes from and that’s why I don’t like her.

She thinks she’s white. She says, ‘I live next door to the Oppenheimers …’
Who the fuck wants to know that? ‘I’m married to a doctor.’ Who the fuck wants to know that?

Call Brenda Fassie, I’ll tell you who I fucked last night.

You don’t want to go overseas and try and break into the pop market there?
I do not. I must break it here first. People must go crazy for me here first. Boer of nie boer nie, black or white. They must go Brenda Fassie! Brenda Fassie! As much as they go Michael Jackson! Or Madonna!

This is my country and I have to prove myself here first.

Do you like what Madonna’s doing, the sex book Erotica?
Yes, yes. Madonna is Madonna, she does what she wants to do. And why should people check Madonna’s life?

Ja, but she’s holding it up for the public.
Let her. Jesus Christ also made his own story. And we all know Jesus Christ … but I don’t believe in that guy. He’s got blood like me. I don’t understand why he must have two fathers when I have one.

Joseph and God: give me a break! And why must he be white in all the pictures? My son asked me, ‘Mom, why has Jesus got white hair?’ I said ja, and took down all the pictures of Jesus in the house.

But you believe in God?
I believe that God is there.

The higher force?
Yes, not a man. A man with a dick? Forget it. He died for me? Forget it. And he wakes up after three days? Give me a break, please.

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