HONOURING HIS MEMORY
Almost a year after gospel star Sfiso Ncwane’s untimely death, his widow Ayanda is still keenly feeling the loss – but she’s staying strong and moving forward
SHE’S the host of Talk, Tea & Tissues, a talk show that focuses on women, the pain they’ve experienced and how they’ve overcome hardship. “Girl, if you think you are going through stuff, wait until you hear what other women deal with each day,” she said in the runup to the show.
And no one is better equipped to host the show, which airs on One Gospel, DStv Channel 331, than Ayanda Ncwane.
Since December last year the 32-yearold mom of two has experienced the depths of grief and is still battling to come to terms with the fact that the love of her life will never walk through the front door again.
It’s been 10 months since her husband, Sfiso Ncwane, died suddenly of kidney failure and in the midst of the turmoil of this year there is one thing she knows for sure: she will never marry again.
“Bab Ncwane wasn’t perfect but he loved me so much,” she says. “When the thought of marriage invades my mind I just ignore it because I don’t think there will ever be anyone who could love me more than my husband did. I also believe we have only one soul mate.”
The couple would have celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in June and Ayanda spent the day under the covers, unable to face the world.
“I closed the curtains, locked myself in my bedroom and slept the whole day. I didn’t want to see the sun or see anyone,” she says.
She and Sfiso always said they’d have a huge celebration when they reached the milestone. “When we got married, we didn’t have much money, so our wedding wasn’t what we wanted it to be,” Ayanda says. We decided we were going to do it all over again and renew our vows after 10 years.”
When Sfiso died, they had already booked the venue for their second wedding and her wedding gown was being made, she says.
They had also hoped to celebrate the anniversary with a baby, hopefully a little girl who could be a little sister to sons Ngcweti (14) and Mawenza (9).
“We had been trying for a baby. He said he wanted a daughter who looked like me,” she says. “I wish he’d kept his semen stored in a lab or something. It would have been my wish to give him the daughter he wanted.”
Ayanda says she isn’t the only person missing her man – people reach out to her everywhere she goes. “From security guards at the estate where we live to
people I meet in the street – they all speak to me,” she says as she twists her wedding ring. “I am their comfort. And talking about him helps me deal with losing him.”
THERE is no formula to being a widow, Ayanda says. All she can tell other grieving women is that you learn as you go along and time helps ease some of the pain. Ayanda singles out Simphiwe Ngema, whose husband, Rhythm City actor Dumi Masilela, was killed in a hijacking in August.
Ayanda gained the respect of many when she sent Simphiwe a comforting message following the shooting.
The message of support Ayanda posted on Instagram said, “Each time another wonderful husband passes on, it angers me that I had to weep and I wish I could run and hold Simphiwe Ngema wherever she is and tell her ‘scream hard for your man, babe gal. It’s either you cry bitterly now or you will spend the next months weeping as if the news was newly brought to you’.”
Ayanda went to see Simphiwe a few days after Dumi passed away.
“As I sat listening to people comforting and advising her, I wished they could know nothing made sense to her at that stage. Nothing can prepare you for the journey that lies ahead.”
Ayanda says when her grief gets overwhelming, she’s comforted by the fact that Sfiso lived his life fully.
“How many 37- year- olds accomplished what he had? He had a gift, and he used it to the best of his ability. I always tell my sons that they must share what God has given us like their father did. They must make sure they don’t go back to Him having not accomplished the mission.”
The walls of the family’s beautiful double- storey home in Dainfern, Johannesburg, are decorated with framed pictures of Sfiso.
“Having Bab Ncwane’s pictures around us helps us heal,” she says. “I also want the boys to see his picture all the time so when they see it somewhere else it doesn’t shock or affect them too much. I want to keep him alive in our hearts.”
WHEN Sfiso died, Ayanda’s battles with her in-laws were all over the media. She decided to “let God take charge”, and things are better now between her and her husband’s family. “I decided to respect my husband and try to resolve the issues as much as I possibly can, so we can all heal,” she says.
Healing is something everyone has something to say about, she adds. Some people tell her she should see a therapist, others that she should change her lifestyle for financial reasons.
“I respect people’s advice but I refuse to go for counselling, move my sons to another school or change the inches of my weave just because my husband is gone,” she declares.
“It’s true I will never make the kind of money Bab Ncwane was making but the source of our provision was God. My husband died but God didn’t,” she says. She gets through her days by keeping herself busy. “Working is like my new drug,” she says. “I go to bed around 2am when I’m exhausted so I can fall asleep straight away and not have too much time to think.”
In addition to her TV show, she’s running her husband’s company, Ncwane Communications, and recently signed an a cappella group called Abathandwa.
Her boys had a hard time coming to terms with losing their father, even though they appeared strong in public.
“I realised later they were putting on a brave face for me because their father always told them I am their responsibility.”
When she realised they were struggling, she sat them down and talked to them. “Now when they achieve something at school they say they know Daddy would be proud.”
Her children might follow in her husband’s footsteps in the music industry, she says. Her youngest, Mawenza, often wakes her up in the middle of the night to sing for her and both boys love music.
“But their father was against it at this stage of their lives,” Ayanda says. “He wanted them to finish school first.”
Ayanda says she’s still taking the grieving process day by day. It’s all you can do, she says. “You just need to be patient and eventually you’ll emerge from the darkness and start to see the light.”
‘We’d been trying for a baby. He wanted a daughter who looked like me’
LEFT Ayanda Ncwane and her sons, Mawenza and Ngcweti, are still picking up the pieces after the loss of family man and gospel singer, Sfiso Ncwane (ABOVE).
LEFT: Ayanda says nothing can prepare one for the loss of a spouse. ABOVE: She sent Simphiwe Ngema words of encouragement after she lost her husband, Dumi Masilela, in a hijacking in August.