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.

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