10 August 2020, felt like a very weird day. I woke up feeling weird and went for a young hike to breathe a bit and get my mood right. When I got home, I felt better. Around 3 pm my laptop was on to complete a few campaigns and monitor digital presence the POWER Drive show. Around 16:30, I noticed a hashtag that was trending. Fast. I started checking what was happening and I kept saying to myself, NO WAYS! Already in tears and in a state of panic, I called my boss,
Me: Boss have you been on Twitter today?
Boss: No, why?
Me: There’s a hashtag that’s trending, is it true?
Boss: Chucks, is it already on Twitter?
Me: Yes, is it true?
Boss: *takes a deep sigh* Yes, it’s true. Bob passed away this afternoon. Please don’t say anything on Twitter yet.
And then I broke down and waited for instructions from management.
I create visual content and tweet for the POWER Drive show and the attacks on the station account and towards Kwena were mind-blowingly harsh. Many tweets wanted the station to verify the news but others were just vile. One literally said, “You guys must be joking. The rest of the world is talking about Bob’s passing and you guys are carrying on like its business as usual.”
You could hear POWER Drive host, Kwena who was standing in for TT, was in shock and his voice was shaking. The news reporter was on the verge of breaking down after every word but we could do nothing at that point. We finally received the official press release, the news could compile a bulletin and we worked on officially put out the news on social media and created e-cards.
What took you guys so long?
Just before the 5 pm news, the chairman went on air and broke the news we all still hoped was not true. “Bob Mabena passed away this afternoon”. Hearing it for the second time made me cry, again.
I actually appreciated management’s call to hold on to the news for a bit. It was done so that the family and friends would be informed first, it was really a family-based decision. It hurt to find out on social media and I can’t imagine the family finding out on social media. Loves, it really costs you nothing to withhold news like this, at least until the family knows. There’s no way of knowing when the family knows but postpone the urge to write a RIP message on someone’s wall when you hear about their passing.
Going to the POWER House
Going to work felt surreal, uncle Bob’s usual parking was occupied by another car. He gets there super early and he always opted for that spot or the one next to it. I got there earlier that morning to assist the POWER Breakfast team with their digital. The mood at the office was somber, Uncle Bob’s seat was empty and there were flowers and candles where he usually sits. I appreciated how the team spoke to and about him on air like they usually would, they did that throughout the week. The playbacks helped us not to miss his laugh and his voice too much but towards the end of the show, it got real.
After the Breakfast show, the POWER Talk team asked me to do a tribute to uncle Bob. On the video/ on-air I shared how the name Kaddy B came to being and the wise words of wisdom he shared with me. And yes, my eyes were swollen from a lot of crying.
Working with Uncle Bob
I remember the first time I met uncle Bob was in a meeting. I remember thinking, wow I can’t believe I’m sitting across this man and he wants to hear what I think about the digital on POWER 98.7.
The second time was at Montana, at the POWER 98.7 listening session. I was part of the team covering the digital. I was asked to get a photo of him to throw forward to this performance. He was so warm and receptive, he asked me if the background and the lighting were great. After I took pics of him, he asked me to check if I got my shots. I also sneaked in a selfie. Everyone there asked him for a selfie and even when we were sitting with his family; he gracefully stood up, greeted the person, and took the selfie or pic.
Uncle Bob was a huge star but he made those around him feel comfortable. So comfortable, that most people at the POWER House were shocked that they did not take pics with him because he was that cool boss/colleague you thought would be around forever.
Also had the privilege of doing agency tours with the MSG Afrika Sales team and him up until the lockdown. I really admired his presenting style. He was presenting stats about the organization and the work we do but it was always conversational from start to end. He added humor here and there and he was really good at reading the room.
He once asked me what’s the percentage of people in South Africa who use Twitter, he knew the answer and I asked him why I should know such. Uncle Bob’s response was,” You sell digital, don’t master it half-heartedly. Master it all the way and share these facts during the presentations as well”. From that day on I made sure to apply myself, even more, to be the “Kaddy B, our digital guru” that he announce me as.
Good night Uncle Bob
The memorial service was surreal, I can only remember certain parts because I was on duty covering the digital. I tried to stay present but a part me couldn’t comprehend how Uncle Bob will no longer be at the POWER House, every day. That his wise counsel will no longer be readily available or that his loud laugh will no longer echo on the corridors.
The last time I saw Uncle Bob was last week Wednesday, I was coming in and he was leaving after the show, as usual, he said “Good morning Kaddy B, how are You?” Little did I know it was the last time I saw him. POWER House will never the same without him.
I commend Thabo, a fellow digital expert who took care of the POWER Breakfast show on digital in the past year or so. If it wasn’t for him, half the visuals we have wouldn’t have existed. I always say; be present but remember to capture the special moments.
There’s a lot to share about Uncle Bob, and memories that I will forever cherish.
Today, we laid him to rest. I still low key wish it wasn’t so but rest easy Uncle Beezy, it is well… You are well. As you would say in your show outro every morning, “See you tomorrow morning, God willing.”