It is almost four years since veteran singer, producer, husband, and father Robbie Malinga died. On 8 November 2021, he would have turned 53.
He might be gone, but his legacy lives on through his family and his hits like Baby Please featuring Kelly Khumalo, Magazi, Shukumisa, and Mthande featuring Musa Sukwene.
On his birthday, his widow Ann Malinga (41) launches a book titled Robbie Malinga in his honour.
The coffee-table style book is edited by renowned journalist, author, and media specialist Lesley Mofokeng, the author of Bitch, Please! I’m Khanyi Mbau.
“I started working on the book two and a half years ago,” Ann tells Drum.
“I approached Lesley Mofokeng as the best person to help me write the book because it was my first time and he offered me guidance. He also had a relationship with Robbie, he understood the industry and I feel he is not given his flowers. I trusted him.”
Writing the book was emotionally taxing for Ann but it needed to be done.
“It was very emotional and in the last few months, there have been many triggers when I have to speak about him. Remembering both the good and the bad was emotional and all I could do was pray,” she says.
“I took so long because of the emotion. I would write for a week, then take a break so I can put real emotion in every sentence.” Ann says if Robbie was alive, he would be very proud.
“I am telling his story from when he was born, grew up, and everything he shared with me. I spoke to childhood friends and family, and I know wherever he is, he is looking down, proud and happy.”
In the second part of the tribute book, Ann gets candid about life as a widow and the daily challenges it has presented to her as a young woman and mother. She addresses society’s prejudices against widows and how often widows are “taken advantage of by ‘friends’ of their deceased husbands”.
Ann opens up about lost friends and the public criticism she faced in the wake of Robbie’s death, money, family dynamics, and most recently about the vicious attacks on her son Robbie Junior on social media. Robbie Junior has been unapologetic about continuing his father’s legacy.
The third and final chapter of the book features tributes starting with the emotional love letter Robbie Junior penned to his sister Zanokuhle who was just two years old when their father died.
“When Robbie died Zano was two years old and she is only now trying to understand that she has one parent. She asked if her dad is coming back when COVID-19 ends, and it’s going to take time to get them to understand and to heal,” Ann says.
“Robbie Junior is still not okay. He tries to be strong but he has struggled immensely. He wrote the letter because he couldn’t do more. I understand he wasn’t ready to give more or write more and I want him to take his time. It has been tough but I’m getting used to being a widow. The children make life easy because they are well behaved and take care of each other.”
In the book, friends, family, and colleagues also share their memories of the music icon and reveal a vivid image of a man who was loved for his music and his contribution to the entertainment industry. Thuso Motaung, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Loyiso Mangena, Kaizer Kganyago, and MEC Vusumuzi Robert Shongwe from Mpumalanga pen their memories of Robbie and the legacy he left behind.
“Honouring the legacy of my husband has been uppermost on my mind since his passing away. My heart is full that the book Robbie Malinga has finally materialized,” Ann says.
“When you have a book, you don’t need a statue because the story will survive time and be told over and over again for generations. The world should never forget the talent and genius of Robbie Malinga and his children will have something to hold on to, a repository of stories and priceless photographs archived for eternity.”
Ann says she is grateful to everyone who contributed to making the dream come true.
“I wish to thank all the people who worked on this project up to this point as well as the fans of Robbie who stood by him and supported his amazing work. This one is for all of you.”
Robbie Malinga retails for R399 (excluding packaging and shipping), eBook costs R199 and is available to order on www.rmlegacygroup.co.za