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Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane (1982-2023): In Memoriam

Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane (1982-2023): In Memoriam

A special warm shout out to the entire Sacred Heart College (SHC), Observatory community, as we rejoice in the life of one of our beloved and chic alumnus. A frenzy of multimedia reports, followed by police and family statements confirmed that Tebello Eugene Motsoane (1982-2023) or simply ‘Tibz’, was tragically shot dead alongside his friend AKA, whose real name was Kiernan Jarryd Forbes (1988-2023). The bulk of reports humanized AKA but dismally failed, to do the same for Tibz henceforth inspiring the reason d’être to pen this article. The fateful incident of these two thriving friends was ascertained by various media outlets, to have taken place on Friday the 10th of February, at 10 pm outside WISH restaurant sited on the busy Florida Road, in Durban. Leaked Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage, which rapidly went viral on social media, revealed how the auspicious incident took place. In a nutshell, the footage revealed that the two friends/homies were shot at close range by two pistol-wielding assailants, while affianced in an embrace. AKA was an infamous South African hip-hop artist, formerly managed and produced by Tibz, before he retired from the recording industry. Tibz had a flourishing social media profile, as a ‘creative’ entrepreneur. He amongst others founded ‘SHOW LOVE Consulting’, whose projects included being an ‘influencer in the business of being cool and savvy’, he was involved in brand strategy, marketing events on social media, promoting wines, and art exhibitions and was a ‘celebrity chef’ who dabbled as a culinary consultant and catering. AKA’s mega public status and fan base in South Africa and beyond however surpassed Tibz's profile by far. AKA’s fame is best described by his moniker Super Mega. Levels amigos levels!

The aforesaid details ought to explain the contrasting amount of publicity, given to each of them after their respective deaths. Predictably and understandably most of the public coverage that reported on the two deaths, overwhelmingly focused on AKA. Here is a sample of specific references, to support my aforesaid point. The Mail & Guardian edition of February 17th - 23rd 2023 splashed on pages 40 and 41 an obituary of AKA by Shingai Darangwa, entitled I want my flowers while I’m still alive. Three colossal pictures of AKA formed part of that article. The sparse reference made to Tibz in that article revealed that Darangwa met him while interning at Live Magazine, wherein they shared the same open-plan office space in Braamfontein. The back cover of that Mail & Guardian edition had AKA’s obscured face in black against a red backdrop captioned “A beast, A problem, An icon”. The national Sunday newspapers of the 19th February 2023 further rubberstamped the attention on AKA. The Sunday Independent cover page featured a sizeable picture entitled Farewell ‘Supa Mega’, which captured AKA’s giant mirage at his memorial service, with the motto ‘LONG LIVE SUPER MEGA LONG LIVE’. In its Sunday Insider supplement AKA’s face was featured amongst other deceased victims, to support Mary De Haas’s article about organised crime titled Broken System Spawns Anarchy. The ‘Editor’s Choice’ on page 7 of the same supplement reported that the “Forbes family confirm the release of AKA’s ‘Mass Country’ [was scheduled for 24th February 2023] to celebrate his legacy”. Once more no reference was made to Tibz, in all three of the above-listed articles. The City Press dedicated its entire cover page, to Julia Madibongo’s article Tembes Fight NPA for ‘Truth’. Again no reference was made to Tibz in that article, as it only narrated about AKA’s woes with the NPA, which decided not to prosecute AKA for the death of his late fiancée Anele Tembe. The Sunday World featured AKA’s picture on its cover page and similarly reported on page 3 on the AKA -Tembe family and NPA saga. Pictures of AKA’s carriage at Heroes Acres in Westpark Cemetery, his family burying him and AKA posing for a picture with Anele Tembe during their lobola negotiations, all accompanied this article. Again there was no picture, of AKA with Tibz. On page 5 of the same newspaper, a “moment of silence for the president of the Megacy” was figuratively requested. The entire page reported on tributes by vast folks, dedicated to AKA which were articulated at his memorial service, at the Sandton Convention Centre titled AKA may be gone but his voice will never leave us. Pictures of the contemporary Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing at AKA’s Bryanston home, three pictures of AKA’s family at his memorial service including his girlfriend, rapper, Nadia Nakai, daughter Kairo and ex-girlfriend DJ Zintle and marathon runner and pastor Kabelo Mabalane (ex-SHC and St. Stithians alumni) amid other celebrities graced that article. Furthermore on page 18 columnist Vusi Nzapheza in his article I’m Embracing the Madala in Me remarked about AKA’s sudden demise and a similar photo as the one used at AKA’s memorial service, was appended. Once more all three articles did not refer to Tibz. The Sunday Times cover page displayed a sizeable picture of AKA’s burial, at Westpark Cemetery, to accompany (on the same page) the feature article titled AKA’s daughter Kairo says goodbye to her dad. Observably Tibz was only mentioned once in passing in this article, as merely the guy that was killed with AKA. On page 6, the entire page featured three articles, one was directly connected to AKA by Orrin Singh and Hendrik Hancke titled Bodyguard ‘had no chance to help AKA’. The latter article focused on the insights of Anwar ‘Dogg’ Khan, an entrusted longtime head of security for AKA. The two other articles by Sakhiseni Nxumalo entitled City’s Crime-fighting Eye in the Sky Has Gone Blind and Penwell Dlamini and Suthentira Govender’s article entitled Inside KZN’s Hitman Industry both made passing references to AKA and Tibz, referring to them as simply the latest victims of organised crime. All the above articles problematically obscured Tibz. Such a missed opportunity to humanize Tibz to the broader South African public became a vital task to me, as an SHC alumnus.

My proposed effort to herein eulogize Tibz will be limited, to his lifelong association with SHC, which was partially attempted at his memorial service on Thursday 16th February 2023, hosted at SHC’s hall and chapel whence both AKA and Tibz’s family’s and dear friends were in attendance. In general prospective reminiscing seeking to humanize Tibz, would certainly benefit from multimedia sources, divided into primary sources (those which featured Tibz being interviewed) and secondary sources (those which reported about Tibz). In no particular order, here is a sample of accessible online sources - Sandisiwe Mbhele’s article in The Citizen of 13th February 2023 entitled Who was the late Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane; Keitumetse Maako’s news24 article of 16th February 2023 entitled Who was Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane? A look back at the celebrity Entrepreneur’s life and career. This article notably drew its contents from DJ Sbusiso Leopa’s viral 2016 interview with Tibz, on his Breakfast Show entitled Who is Tebello Motsoane; Leanne Mana's 2015 interview on South African Broadcast Corporation’s (SABC) ‘MORNING LIVE’ show with Tibz entitled Motsoane Using music as a tool to get involved in Society; Slikour’s interview with Tibz on his online platform in 2019 entitled On the Ground: Tibz Talks South African Culinary club, Growing up and Vaseline and alas an interview with Tibz on Bright Rock TV in 2020 entitled From Hoop Dreams to Hip Hop, the Business secrets of Tibz, South Africa’s Number One Influencer. For a swipe at Tibz's romantic life, these two articles may suffice Cebelihle Mthethwa’s DRUM article of 9th September 2019 titled Tshepi Vundla opens up about abusive relationship with Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane and Qhama Dayile’s ‘Celeb Buzz’ outlet of 11th February 2023 titled RIP TIBZ. In sum, the above sources revealed that Tibz was born in 1982 and raised in Katlehong. He had a stable upbringing, as the only child to his loving parents. He enrolled at SHC, from nursery to matric. He received a basketball bursary to attend Witwatersrand Technikon (Wits Tech) and later the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) to study International Relations and Media Studies. He discontinued studying, to pursue entrepreneurship.

The vintage existence of SHC becomes apparent when considering that it is set to celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2024. Astonishingly 2024 will simultaneously mark a century of existence of SHC being sited in Observatory. On the strength of SHC’s annual magazines, it can be affirmed that Tibz was among the cohort of pupils, who were privileged to be enrolled for their entire school lives at SHC, estimately from 1987 until 2000. SHC opened its nursery in 1986, as part of an expansion of the junior school in Yeoville, which was sited where SHC’s longstanding sister school Holy Family Convent used to be. SHC’s principal at the time, was Brother Neil McGurk but Mrs. Heidi Tietjiens was supervising the pre-school. Tietjiens would have most likely engaged with Tibz's parents. In SHC jargon it may be said that - Brother Neil led the ‘big school’ and Mrs Tietjiens led the ‘small school’. Schoolmates who endured the same period with Tibz, included William Pheleu, Kirsty McAlpine (daughter of the former SHC Home-Economics teacher Mrs Vivienne McAlpine), Oy-Ling Booth (daughter of SHC karate Shihans Stuart and Joyce Booth), Rene Whitaker (daughter of one of SHC’s beloved ex-tuckshop mums) and Tertius de Villiers (younger brother of my contemporary Jean De Villiers). The first three listed, were in his ‘Green Group’ class in 1987, taught by Miss Lee Williams. In the annual school magazine of 1987, I found Tibz's earliest picture as a tiny tot with a jovial boyish smile, alongside his fellow pre-primary schoolmates, on page 8 and his aforementioned class photo is on page 10. It is touching to note that the bond of friendship with Yusuf Randera-Rees (who left SHC for Crawford), who was one of the speakers at his memorial service, dated back to that period when they were both tiny tots and classmates. In 1988 Tibz progressed to Mrs. D Schimper’s Grade O S class.

I do not recall the specific first (nor the last) time I saw Tibz but based on our school calendar, I can safely presume that our initial meeting would have most likely taken place in January 1992, when we were both enrolled at our alma mater. In hindsight when I jog my memories about our school years, it is surreal to believe (as is the regrettable case, with the majority of fellow SHC alumni), that we last saw each other 22 years ago, at the end of my matric year in 1999. Phew, how time flies.

I was a single Grade/Standard ahead of Tibz, so although we had a convivial relationship, since our karate club days (am still livid that I am missing in the annual school magazine photo for that year) under sensei Booth and his wife in primary school however we were never bosom friends. If pushed to describe our relationship, I may classify it merely as that of enduring schoolmates. With my rebellious conduct and a self-proclaimed nickname such as Vurvaya, who could blame Tibz and other SHC schoolmates back then, for being wary of me due to my insolent, impudent and brazen persona? For those curious to understand the source of my brusqueness back then, one must not look no further than my foundation years. It was miraculous how I survived my exile experience (in Tanzania and Zimbabwe) before returning to South Africa in 1992. My parents were part of the cohort of activist Black youth, who were harassed by the Apartheid regime, so they skipped the country in 1979 and joined the African National Congress (ANC) in exile. Our return back to South Africa was bittersweet because although my parents and I were overjoyed to return to our ancestral ground, my folks divorced in the same year. So at 12 years old when I was enrolled at SHC and met fellow schoolmates such as Tibz et al, owing to my domestic woes I had to negotiate the harsh contrasts of being a nomadic pupil who, post-exile initially resided in Diepkloof, Soweto (with my paternal family) then after sessions with our then SHC counsellor Mrs Barbara Watson, shifted to reside with my maternal folks in Alex township.

At a general level, to understand what it meant for Black kids like myself and Tibz to be at SHC back then, one would have to consider the entertainment of the 1990s, as that influenced our ontological realities incredibly. The following biopics alongside their respective soundtracks come to mind, Boyz n the Hood (1991), New Jack City (1991), White Men Can’t Jump (1992), Menace II Society (1993), Poetic Justice (1993), Above the rim (1994), Higher Learning (1995), Friday (1995) and Dangerous Minds (1995). Google the latter and get a hint at the source of where Tibz may have drawn inspiration for his eventual audacity to pursue the art of being hip and cool as an occupation. In hindsight, I chuckle at memories of the heydays of the 1990s because back then, who would have imagined Tibz as a successful talent scout in the local South African hip-hop scene, who passes away as a celebrity chef? Given that Tibz’s entire basic education, took place at SHC, I support the view of those who had the brainwave, to host his dignified memorial service, on Thursday 16th February 2023 at his alma mater.

So when fast-forwarding to his fateful death, Tibz somehow has been diminished as either simply AKA’s friend or AKA’s former manager or business associate. When I read social media posts and leading national newspapers in the week of this duo’s memorial services as done at the beginning, the sparse reference to Tibz, compelled me to contribute towards efforts to share details about him, beyond his clichéd post-school exploits. This tribute has thus been undertaken to address my compulsion to pay Tibz my last respect, with this quasi-incomplete eulogy.

Let me close off with Coolio’s 1997 hit song I will “C U When U Get There". Rest Easy homie!

 

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Dr. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi

Dr. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi

Dr. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study (JIAS), University of Johannesburg.

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