By Juliet Joseph
Born in the culturally diverse township of Phelindaba, Atteridgeville— Bob Kgomotsi Mabena was a conqueror of the airwaves and broadcaster of note who gave his life to the hearts, souls and minds of South African radio lovers.
Mabena passed away at the age of 51 on the 10th of August 2020, after suffering cardiac arrest. He was laid to test on the 15th of August 2020 where his wife Eucharist Mabena paid tribute to her late husband by thanking him for his love and for keeping his promises to her.
Mabena lived to inspire and nurture talent through the airwaves. He started his career at Bophutatswana media where he worked at Radio Bop in 1989. Growth is imminent in life, so was it felt in his radio broadcasting life as he continued to climb through other radio stations including Kaya 959 where he worked as the programs manager in 1999. His humour gave him the ability to centre patriotism, democracy and education which he made a norm on national radio.
Bra’ Bob, as he was affectionately known, won the hearts of many South Africans on the continent and around the globe. He was responsibly outspoken on pertinent issues which resonated with people across age, class and race lines. Abuti’ Bob to his peers, Uncle Bob to his industry students and Bob the father to his rivalry station hosts. The ability to bring together people with opposing views with a smile, was simply Bob Mabena to the core.
Bob will also be remembered as one of the pioneers of black music in the early days of our democracy. We all remember the days of reciting the lyrics to his smash single Get Funky, which climbed the local music charts in the early 90’s and won him a SAMA in 1994. Whichever microphone he was behind, Bob fully embodied his life as a radio personality, a multi-skilled professional and a sharer of knowledge to the next generation of broadcasters.
Mistakes are a part of who we are as a people, so is learning. Bob allowed those who interacted with him tolive honestly and to learn intentionally. That was Bob Mabena, no signals jammed because he was the Jammer.
Kaya 959 bids farewell to you Uncle Bob. Rest in power. If heaven has a radio station, the angels are having a fantastic time with you behind the heavenly mic!