I thought that the most fitting Divine Diva for our inaugural newsletter should be Thandi Klaasen. She achieved greatness against what many would have considered debilitating odds. She had enough against her to justify an unremarkable, or worse yet a bitter, angry life.
She was a female, born black in apartheid South Africa and the victim of a cruel attack that robbed her of her beauty and caused her incredible pain, yet she rose like a phoenix from the ashes on the sheer power of her spirit. She demonstrated the determination and courage of the Greek Pallas Athena.
Thandi Klaasen’s life is a great lesson in achievement, determination, joy, power and beauty. She understood that we are all born with an ability to shine, rise above limitations and ultimately inspire and that no one has the power to take that choice away from us.
As a young girls she formed a quartet called The Quad Sisters. The group later became the first all-female group to make a recording in South Africa. She went on to perform with King Kong, the musical, share the stage with the likes of Roberta Flack and Patti Labelle, and win a Count Pushkin award for best female vocalist in 1976. To say that her career was on a meteoric rise would be an understatement. That is when disaster struck. A jealous friend paid some thugs to burn her face.
Thandi suffered permanent damage to her face and spent almost a year in hospital but she refused to crumple up in a heap and die. Instead she went on to live a full life complete with what became a legendary career, love, children, adventure and joy. She has just received a life time achievement award at the 2006 South African Music Awards.
Next time you are tempted to crawl under the covers because a voice (internal or external) claims that you are somehow imperfect or incapable, summon the spirit of Thandi Klaasen; a Warrior Goddess who not only knows how to beat the odds, but also how to use them to climb all the way to the top.