Top Japanese honour for SA jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim
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Ibrahim is one of several foreign recipients of the 2020 Spring Imperial awards conferred by His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan.
“Ibrahim will receive The Order of the Rising Sun in recognition of his lifetime achievement in emancipating the people of South Africa and the world through his music, as well as his contribution to Japan-South African friendship through his works, performances and profound understanding of Japanese culture and spirituality,” the Japanese embassy said in a statement.
Ibrahim, 85, has previously received South Africa’s National Order of Ikhamanga as well as numerous international awards.
Ibrahim, who started playing professionally aged 15, has consistently fought against racism and injustices.
His well-known composition, Manenberg, was loved and regarded as an informal national anthem during the time of apartheid.
He also has an intrinsic understanding of Japanese culture and spirituality through his long-time engagement with Budo, a Japanese term for “martial way”.
It refers to those disciplines with a common goal, whether it be spiritual, ethical or moral self-improvement.
Ibrahim has been conferred full mastership from the grandmaster Yukio Tonegawa of the Bujutsu Kodosoku-Kai Yakami-ryu Taijutsu, and previously owned a dojo in Cape Town.
He has performed several concerts in Japan, including at the Unesco World Heritage Site, Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto, in 2003, 2006, 2010, 2015 and 2019.
Closer to home, Ibrahim has performed in celebration of the centenary of the Japanese Consulate in Cape Town, the oldest Japanese mission in Africa, on Heritage Day in 2018.
His most recent performance in Japan was in September last year, during the Rugby World Cup.
Dates and arrangement of the conferment ceremony will be made in due course.