Close family and friends attended the private funeral ceremony of the late media personality Nomakula Cynthia ‘Kuli’ Roberts in Johannesburg on Thursday.
“Both the Roberts and Mboya family have been immensely grateful in recent days for the tremendous support from across the country. They have planned a small intimate gathering for her farewell,” the family said.
Media colleagues and loved ones gathered yesterday for a special commemoration for Roberts, who died Wednesday last week after starting an attack. She was 49 years old.
The funeral service began with prayers and hymns of praise from the Pretoria Methodist Church. Robert’s son, Leaun, said he has struggled to organize his thoughts and cope with the tragedy of his mother’s death.
“My mother was the woman who shaped my sister (Thembela) and me into the adults we are today.”
He added that his mother was more than an editor, an actress or a columnist and that after her memorial, he was “filled” with joy at the kind words of the entertainment fraternity.
This allowed him to accept her passing and celebrate Kuli’s life.
Leaun shared some memories of how his mother supported them during their upbringing: “My mother lifted me up in that spiderman suit of hers, there are a lot of stories like that and how she cheered me on during my rugby matches even though I wasn’t the best rugby player,” he joked.
Broadcaster Criselda Kandana was emotional during her speech and remembered her as a close friend, a person who consistently told her story and took her journalism work seriously.
“She made sure she was here. She was such a giver, you would never go out without a gift. I really understand now that she is our gift, she is the gift that God had given us…
“Her was a unique friendship, what a diamond, heaven has indeed gained an angel.”
Kandana said that Kuli’s activism was important to her and that she built a platform to highlight the injustices experienced by different types of people.
The former SABC radio host added that Kuli’s welcome party to heaven would be hosted by legends of the past such as Brenda Fassie, Bob Mabena and Lebo Mathosa.
Award-winning singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka explained that her and Kuli’s friendship was not natural, but that they eventually became close over the years.
Chaka Chaka often took the risky side of her writing, saying that people didn’t hate Kuli – she was just “naughty” but not diverse.
“You have to be different to make a difference. You don’t have to be liked, accepted or respected by anyone. Your mission is different from anyone else’s, you stayed focused on your mission and always trusted in God,” she concluded.
Other speakers mentioned what a proud grandmother she was, as well as her work for the LGBTQIA community, albinism and gender-based violence groups, leaving her with a “shining legacy.”
Kuli’s father said she loved making people laugh, and invited Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to pay his last respects as a friend.
Mbalula said Kuli complained directly to him about the service, the state of the country and resolving driver delays.
The minister said that he and Kuli communicated often and that he missed her call last week and was unaware that she was going through a difficult time. He concluded that his friend never held a grudge.
Other famous faces included Unathi Nkayi, Thomas Msengana and actress and sister Hlobi Mboya.
Watch: Funeral Service Kuli Roberts
Roberts is remembered as a pioneer and over the years he has worked on publications such as Fair Lady, Drum, You Magazine, Tempo and the tabloid Sunday World.
Roberts has hosted shows such as ‘What Not to Wear’, ‘Real Goboza’, ‘Trending SA’ and her own show ‘Headline!’ What’s? currently available on Showmax†
She also worked in radio, with her most notable appointment to date at Kaya FM, where she worked with the likes of the late Bob Mabena.
During the memorial service, Sonia Motaung took the stage to share some memories she had with Kuli while working with her at Sunday World†
Sonia explained that when Roberts got to the publication, she got her own blog called Bitch’s Brewwhich would have a duration of four weeks.
When the four weeks were up, the journalist was assigned the long-term blog, which she excelled at for years.
Kaya FM radio host and comedian Skhumba Hlophe shared his admiration for the way she has lived truthfully throughout her life. and didn’t care about the opinion of others
Hlophe advised all guests attending the memorial service to lead a carefree and honest life that reflected the life of the media personality.