By Bongani Ndlovu
One of the founding members of Iyasa, Sonia “Soso” Mbaya, who died last Friday was buried at Luveve Cemetery yesterday with friends and colleagues describing her as a larger than life character.
Soso died at the age of 33 at Mpilo Central Hospital after reportedly suffering from a severe asthma attack.
Heartbroken songbird, Nkwali said Soso’s death had left her devastated.
Soso’s career started off at Iyasa in 2002 alongside Nkwali and Sandra Ndebele before she moved to Siyaya Arts in 2009 where she featured on the hit musical, Zambezi Express.
“She was a fun and bubbly person who was full of jokes. On stage, she was amazing and I wasn’t comfortable dancing next to her because she was powerful.
“I learnt a lot from her and I’m, devastated”,said Nkwali.
A distraught Sandra “Sandy” Ndebele who was Soso’s senior during her stint at Iyasa, said she was shocked by her sudden death.
“Soso dying so young has left me in shock and pain. She was a humble person who had a bubbly personality. She was my junior at Iyasa and people likened her to me in dance styles,” Sandy said.
She said Soso did not show signs that she was seriously ill.
“We didn’t even think that Sonia was going to die because she kept us updated on WhatsApp telling us she wasn’t breathing properly through 30-second videos. There was no indication from that interaction that some days later, she would be dead.”
Iyasa director, Nkululeko Dube, who is touring Austria with the band said the story of the group cannot be told without mentioning Soso.
“In Soso, I’ve not only lost a pioneer member of Iyasa but a daughter as well. The story of Iyasa cannot be told without mentioning her name. Her energy, charisma and bubbly character will be missed.
“She was one of the friendliest and receptive artistes I’ve ever worked with,” said Dube.
He said Soso’s fans will remember her for being good at imitating Brenda Fassie hence one of her nicknames was MaBree.
“Soso was family. Even after she moved from Iyasa, she never missed a chance to be with the group whenever she could. Her fans remember how she imitated Brenda Fassie and how she played roles in videos like Bump Jive from Iyasa and later her charismatic role in Siyaya’s Zambezi Express,” said Dube.
Soso, according to Dube, was irreplaceable. Siyaya director, Saimon “Mambazo” Phiri, said Soso will be greatly missed.
“Well known throughout Bulawayo, Sonia was a larger than life character. Many people will remember her amazing dance skills, mirth and jokes.
“She was always looking on the bright side of things and really made everyone feel at home. Her warm and infectious personality will be missed,” posted Mambazo on his Facebook page.
Soso leaves behind two children. The Chronicle