joseph shabalala funeral

Image via Twitter: @PresidencyZA

‘Joseph Shabalala is going to start a choir in heaven’ – President Ramaphosa

The founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Professor Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala, was laid to rest in Ladysmith on 22 February 2020.

joseph shabalala funeral

Image via Twitter: @PresidencyZA

Speaking at Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala’s funeral on Saturday 22 February 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder’s “life was music.” He added:

“Joseph Shabalala is going to start a choir in heaven that is going to sing Isicathamiya”.

The president said that Shabalala’s memory should be honoured by ensuring that “our artists […] are not exploited, and that their rights to their works are protected for their benefit and the benefit of their descendants”.

Watch: President Cyril Ramaphosa at Joseph Shabalala’s funeral

Back in 1986, Ladysmith Black Mambazo collaborated with Paul Simon on his Graceland album. The record went on to sell more than 16 million copies worldwide.

In addition, the Graceland album also won the Album Of The Year award at the Grammy Awards in 1987. Shabalala is hailed, and rightfully so, as a musical genius who brought traditional Zulu music to the world.

President Ramaphosa said on Saturday 22 February that Joseph Shabalala “made Paul Simon more famous than he was”.

joseph shabalala funeral, founder of ladysmith black mambazo
Image via Twitter: @PresidencyZA

Shabalala’s funeral was also attended by former president Jacob Zuma, as well as Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, and Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, among many others.

“Joseph Shabalala and his music will live forever. Hamba kahle Mshengu, we thank you; you were a gift to humanity.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa

Members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo also took to the stage and paid tribute to Shabalala by performing a medley of the group’s smash hits, including a segment of the award-winning song, Homeless.

Watch: Ladysmith Black Mambazo pay tribute to Joseph Shabalala

Shabalala was forced into retirement in 2014 due to his deteriorating health. His last performance was at a memorial concert for the late Nelson Mandela.

Shabalala passed away on 11 February 2020 at the age of 78. The news of his passing was shared on Twitter by the official account of Ladysmith Black Mambazo:

“Our founder, our teacher and most importantly, our father left us today for eternal peace. We celebrate and honour your kind heart and your extraordinary life. Through your music and the millions who you came in contact with, you shall live forever”.

Joseph Shabalala memorial
The Legacy group sing for people attending the memorial service for Dr Joseph Shabalala took place yesterday at the Ladysmith Indoor Sports Complex. Picture: ANA (African News Agency)/Motshwari Mofokeng

Also read – Ladysmith Black Mambazo: UK tour to honour Joseph Shabalala