Sibongile Khumalo

Image @sibo_khumalo

‘A golden voice is now silent’: SA remembers Sibongile Khumalo

The music fraternity has lost a giant in globally-renowned singer Sibongile Khumalo, who died from stroke-related complications

Sibongile Khumalo

Image @sibo_khumalo

South Africans from all walks of life have reacted with sadness, to the death of singing legend Sibongile Khumalo, who passed away at age 63.

Khumalo’s management confirmed her death on Thursday, 28 January 2021. According to a statement issued by the star’s family, she succumbed to stroke-related complications following a lengthy illness.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr Sibongile Khumalo, our iconic, world-celebrated South African singer, affectionately known as Ma’Mngoma (24 September 1957-28 January 2021),” the family said.

“She will be missed by all who had the privilege of experiencing her music, her friendship and her love. Dr Sibongile Khumalo succumbed to stroke related complications after a lengthy period of illness. The family is grateful for the support and prayers during this time,”

Social media has been awash with warm tributes for Khumalo, who has been dubbed “The Lady of Song” by the late president Nelson Mandela.

“A golden voice is now silent on earth. An African queen! A global icon! I have admired her since I was a child. Rest in peace Mama Sibongile Khumalo. You are now the lead singer in heaven’s choir,” said one Twitter user.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthetwa has also reacted to Sibongile Khumalo’s death, saying:

“Dr Sibongile Khumalo was an ambassador of our heritage. A musical genius who enchanted diverse audiences all over South Africa and beyond. She will eternally be remembered for her repertory which was similarly eclectic. She was a musical maestro who made it her life’s purpose to tell the story of our people through music. She left a legacy that will forever go down the annals of history”.

Who was Sibongile Khumalo?

Khumalo’s musical career began at the tender age of eight. She gained prominence when she won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award at the Grahamstown Arts Festival in 1993. Her illustrious career saw her release several critically acclaimed and award winning albums and graced a variety of prestigious events both locally and internationally.

Throughout her career she was awarded many accolades including The Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) bestowed on her by President Thabo Mbeki.  Through her music, she has always reflected the richness of her culture, wisdom, and warmth of her family, her community, and continent.

In 2009, Dr Khumalo was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Rhodes University. She has also been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of South Africa (Doctor of Musicology) as well as the University of Zululand (Doctor of Philosophy)