VOICES | South African Artists Trapped In Poverty


There's a popular trend in South Africa, that attracts a growing support after the passing on of celebrities.

(Picture, by Sweetwater)

By Solam Yves Ludidi

Celebrating artists' milestone when they are no more, has become a common exercise in various avenues of our society. Quite a number of people, who were not even fans of certain musicians when they were still alive, usually go with the flow of the bandwagon effect.


It's still fine to add the number of fans after they pass on. But there's nothing more worrying, than the plight of South African artists who die poverty-stricken. In some instances, the government would intervene by granting some of the deceased artists a state-funded funeral.

Brenda Fassie died in 2004 with a trail of financial woes. Senyaka Kekana is another musician said to have died poor. When he died his family was reportedly asking for donations from anyone, so as to give him a proper burial. When Gospel singer Lundi Tyamara died in 2017, he asked a friend to borrow him R950 to pay a storage fee for his furniture.

I personally think that the government should provide educational workshops, for artists on how to manage their entertainment affairs.

Kwaito star Brown Dash died a pedestrian with only the clothes on his back. These are just a few cases in a long list of artists who die broke. The question is, why do our artists die poor? Some people are of the view that royalty rip-offs, ignorance and the bling life are sending artists to the grave without a cent.

Business speaker and Johannesburg Stock Exchange Director, Vusi Thembekwayo says: "They must concern themselves with all aspects of their business - sales, marketing, logistics and even financials. They sign with an agent who earns 25 percent of their money (off the top), for facilitating a transaction. So, for merely picking up the phone, taking a booking, sending a contract and getting the often non-complex logistics in order."

Vusi notes that talent-preneurs (those who make money using their talents), will pay 25 percent of every rand they earn to someone else. "That's ridiculous. Imagine Standard Bank giving away 25 percent of everything they earn to someone else." The business speaker emphasises that talent-preneurs, need to understand that personal branding is not marketing.

In August 2018, Durban-based singer L'Vovo Derrango posted the following comment on Twitter: 

"Money is stuck in corporate buildings, under the disguise of 'building the artist'. The problem is not just the little money that finally gets to artists. It's not having enough platforms for airplay. Meaning your radio stations and television channels, are systematically controlled by monopolies to promote Abo Lil Wayne. And all these artists that poison people mentally."

I personally think that the government should provide educational workshops, for artists on how to manage their entertainment affairs. In that manner, that would ensure their financial hurdle in all circles of life. 

Celebrities are humans and they can have financial issues. Blame it on high life, but whatever the case, money is an issue for everyone.

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