- On Friday, a public memorial service was held to celebrate the life of Kiernan ‘AKA’ Forbes at the Sandton Convention Centre.
- Industry colleagues and friends shared their memories of the rapper throughout his career.
- AKA will be laid to rest in a private funeral on Saturday.
It was a mix of emotions across the country on Friday as the life of multi-award-winning rapper Kiernan ‘AKA’ Forbes was celebrated in a public memorial service at the Sandton Convention Centre.
AKA (35) was shot and killed outside a popular night spot in Durban a week ago. His long-time friend and former manager, Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane (41), was killed in the same shooting.
READ MORE | Graphic CCTV footage shows rapper AKA and Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane’s last moments
They will be laid to rest in private funeral ceremonies on Saturday.
Programme director Nomuzi Mabena said as she opened the ceremony that they were there to celebrate the amazing life of their friend. Kabelo Mabalane, who had been AKA’s spiritual mentor over the past year, said the journey they walked was “one of my greatest pleasures”.
Mabalane added that at their last cell group meeting, where AKA came with his girlfriend Nadia Nakai, the rapper’s prayer request was that his forthcoming album, Mass Country, was a success.
“We have a responsibility to make it his biggest one yet,” he said.
‘In my eyes, you seemed immortal’
The first to pay tribute was rapper and producer JR. He said it was “most heartbreaking” that the first speech he had to make was a tribute to his long-time friend.
JR said while he could not remember how they met, an early moment that stood out in their friendship was around late 2009 or early 2010 when he asked AKA to accompany him to Durban for a show.
“And that’s when this kind of sordid love affair began that would turn into a long romance with that city, which makes it even harder to comprehend that a city that he loved like that would be the one to take him away from us,” he said.
He added AKA would never end a phone call without saying ‘I love you.’
“Kiernan always loved and was proud of his family, especially his daughter, who was and still is the apple of his eye,” JR said. “He spoke about Kairo all the time. Her accomplishments at school, performances and growth. Kiernan and I had a special fatherhood bond, and I think that’s one of the things that I’ll probably miss the most.”
Fellow rapper and producer Yanga Chief recalled how he performed with AKA the first time for 10 000 people and how he could “just change one’s life overnight”.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I’d be the one making this speech. In my eyes, you seemed immortal,” he said.
“I am eternally grateful to have lived to witness the meteoric rise of AKA from the ground up, to watch the man craft his legacy with hard work and determination so infectious you could see it in his team. Everything he did was fueled by blinding ambition and a love for all things living and breathing.”
He also thanked AKA for sharing his family with him and making him feel loved “in this cold city”.
Wrapping up his speech, he thanked Nadia Nakai for saving AKA’s life, loving him and bringing him back to them when they thought they had lost him. He also thanked AKA’s former partner and mother of his daughter, DJ Zinhle, for putting up with him and keeping him in check.
“To Kairo, your dad was an example to all fathers around the country. I can’t imagine your pain, but try to remember all these lessons he taught you because he left his biggest life gems in you. You taught him to be a better person, and he’ll always be with you.”
The origins of AKA
Radio and TV personality Sizwe Dhlomo shared the origins of AKA’s passion for music, dating back to as early as the mid-2000s when he was part of a group, Entity.
“He always had a grand plan for his career,” he said.
Dhlomo said when he asked him how he planned to do that, AKA said: “I want the mass appeal of Pro, I want the commercial viability of HHP, and I wanna have the stage presence of Brenda Fassie”.
Producer and musician DJ Tira said the country had lost a legend and an icon.
“Supa Mega was one in a million,” he said. “Supa Mega cared a lot about the industry.”
“I call him the king of South African radio because he always came with a hit,” DJ Tira said. “Like it or not, we will hear AKA on our streets, and he will top the charts and remain the best.”
“As South Africa, we need to do something about the crime in our country.” DJ Tira added that it’s not about the death of a celebrity but about the safety of everyone in South Africa, “This needs to stop.”
Kwaito legend Oskido said he met AKA around 15 years ago when he scooped a Channel O music award.
“I started seeing the culture of hip-hop growing. Kiernan was at the forefront of commercialising it,” he said.
GALLERY | Friends, family and fans celebrate AKA’s life at memorial
A message to the Megacy
AKA’s mother, Lynn, asked the Megacy, as his fans are referred to, to control how they manage their emotions about the rapper’s gruesome murder.
“Kiernan’s body has been taken from us, just his body, it has been taken from this world in the most brutal way, and I understand that just like our family and me, you must feel the same,” she said.
She said her son would have wanted his legacy to be carried on for his daughter and his supporters.
“He would’ve wanted us to make sure that when Kairo is at the age where she gets onto social media, she would be flooded with things that celebrate her dad and his work. So, whatever is happening around us, we must focus on the future and us as a family and make sure that the Megacy is not let down.”
ALSO READ | Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane honoured at memorial service: ‘You were and always will be poetry in motion’