KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has welcomed the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to honour Dr Joseph Shabalala, the legendary leader of the Grammy Award-winning Isicathamiya Group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with a Special Official Funeral Category 2.
Shabalala passed away after a long illness, at the age of 78, at a hospital in Pretoria on 11 February 2020. The President has instructed that the National Flag fly at half-mast until the evening of 22 February 2020.
Premier Zikalala said Shabalalala, who has steered Ladysmith Black Mambazo to unprecedented international glory over many decades, deserved a fitting send-off because of his influence in Isicathamiya, a genre that speaks to many South Africans.
“We truly applaud President Ramaphosa’s decision to honour Mshengu with a special official funeral. As the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, we are deeply humbled that this remarkable son of the soil will be given a fitting a send-off. Despite his international stardom, Mshengu has remained humble and has inspired many Isicathamiya groups who saw him as their role model. He has also contributed greatly to the empowerment of his community in various ways,” said Zikalala.
Funeral arrangements for the legendary Mambazo founder are already underway and President Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the eulogy at his funeral in his hometown of Ladysmith on Saturday, 22 February, 2020.
Memorial services are planned in Ladysmith, Durban and Johannesburg between Tuesday and Thursday.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who have shared the stage with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton and have five Grammy awards to their name, gained wordwide prominence in 1987 after their collaboration with Paul Simon on the award-winning album Graceland, which produced hits such as Homeless and Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.
The group‚ which former President Nelson Mandela once described as South Africa’s “ambassadors of song"‚ is now led by Shabalala’s sons Sibongiseni‚ Thulani‚ Thami and Msizi and it also includes his grandsons.
Shabalala formed the group because of a series of dreams he had for over a period of six months during the late 1950s. He described this as “beautiful sounds featuring a choir singing in perfect harmony and one not achieved by any group at the time”.
Premier Zikalala has once again expressed his condolences to the Mshengu family, his children, friends and relatives, as well as members of the Mambazo group on their loss of this iconic artist.
ISSUED BY THE KZN OFFICE OF THE PREMIER
For enquiries, contact:
KZN Provincial Government Spokesman
082 884 2403
KZN Premier Medial Liaison
083 253 0748