WATCH | 5 heartwarming moments from Andile Gumbi’s memorial

A memorial service for Andile Gumbi was held in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
A memorial service for Andile Gumbi was held in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Image: Kyle Zeeman

Family, friends and fans packed the Assemblies of God church in Sandton on Wednesday afternoon to pay tribute to “a giant of SA screens” Andile Gumbi, with those close to him remembering the impact he had on their lives.

The former Isibaya and The Lion King star died in an Israeli hospital two weeks ago after suffering a cardiac arrest last month.

He was performing in a production called Daniel The Musical in the country at the time, with the production confirming that his wife had flown out to be at his side.

“He loved his wife and his family”

Andile's mother and widow were both in attendance at the memorial.

They listened as Isibaya's Desiree Markgraaff spoke of the love he had for his family.

“He always spoke about you ma. He spoke of everything he wanted to do for you. He never wanted to disappoint you. He loved his family and when he told us he was going to get engaged, we were over the moon,” she said.

Millicent Makhado remembered how Andile “loved his wife and he loved his family” and would always keep them up to date with all the family's adventures.

“He was fierce”

One of the founding members of The Lion King musical, Ron Kunene described the production's struggles to find a person to play Simba on the project and how when they met Andile they knew he was the right man.

“He made history. He was the first African to play Simba on Broadway ... The man was fierce. He was fearless. He took the role. One thing we noticed is that he exuded the spirit of Zulu, the spirit of Biko. The man was tough. Even if he was playing a character, you could see the man was what the character was meant to be.” 

“Music was his life”

Programme director Joel Zuma said Andile loved to sing and would always be surrounded by music.

It was fitting that the memorial would then feature musical performances from productions he had been a part of, Sarafina, King Kong and The Lion King.

“He made mistakes but he had changed”

Earlier in his career Andile faced rumours of assault and being drunk on set. He slammed the reports.

Mourners heard how he sat down with the producers of SABC 1 series Makoti and told them that he had made some mistakes but he was not that person any more.

 “You will always be in my heart”

Gumbi's manager Brian Mauku struggled to find words to describe his pain and wrote much of his feelings in a letter that was read on stage.

“The most important thing is that you know you will always be in my heart. The heavens have gained an angel. All I can say is thank you for being in my scenes. Thank you for all the moments, I will always light a candle at sunrise and sunset and remember you. God speed, my friend.”

Gumbi's friend Thabo Gwadiso was with him in Israel when he fell into a coma and told mourners that he was taken to hospital on the Tuesday and was in a coma by Wednesday.

Gumbi will be buried in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, on Saturday.

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