ZUKISWA Gloria Somnhonho, one of the few women who fought for and promoted African traditional music, died on Monday.
Known as Nolwazi Mseleku (pictured) in music circles, Somnhonho was born in Soweto on February 6 1969. Though her name might not ring a bell to many, Somnhonho is the woman who put multiplatinum-selling maskandi outfit Shwi Nomtekhala on the map.
Unlike many female promoters who turned their backs on this genre, Somnhonho wanted to see maskandi music grow in leaps and bounds.
She showed character and bravery. To say she was a hard worker would be an understatement - Somnhonho was an achiever.
She had tons of energy and was full of life. Driven by passion for the genre, she knocked on the doors of newspapers, magazines and radio stations, trying to get maskandi music the respect and recognition she thought the genre deserved.
She did not care whether you liked or hated her, all she wanted was to see her musicians' names in the newspapers.
Somnhonho's quest for success knew no bounds. She was behind the success of maskandi groups like Izingane Zoma, Soldiers of the Cross, Mgqumeni noNtando, Sazi Nyathi, Zandi and Babo Ngcobo.
Her enthusiasm and love for this neglected music genre gave her the courage to face all the industry's hardships. Her confidence set her apart from others.
She started her career in the early 1990s and worked for companies such as Richie S Records, Cool Spot, Bula Music, Abanye Bayombona Music, South African Heritage Trust and the Street Base.
At the time of her death, Somnhonho was working with Izingane Zoma Recording Company and Mgazi Entertainment.
Somnhonho started her primary school education at Phakamani in Zondi, Soweto and went to Bhukulani High School, also in Soweto, before attending Educon College for computer course.
She proceeded to Rosebank College, where she studied towards a diploma in communications, business management, marketing and public relations.
Somnhonho is survived by five children, two sisters and two brothers.
She will be buried on Sunday at Avalon Cemetery in Soweto. Her funeral service starts at 7am at her home in Zondi and the cortege leaves at 11.30am.