Dr Mshengu Shabalala

Durban - Legends of the entertainment industry gathered to honour Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder, Joseph Shabalala, on Thursday night.

The Durban Playhouse was filled with laughter and humour at an event, supported by the Department of Arts and Culture, to thank Shabalala for putting isicathamiya on the international music map.

The group has been nominated for 16 Grammy Awards and won four times.

Among those who paid tribute was renowned playwright and director John Kani.

He said Shabalala was one of the few he looked up to in his profession.

He said overseas it was hard to find people who did not know Shabalala and the group.

“His music is life, his legacy is a gift to all,” Kani said

A friend, Albert Mazibuko, said Shabalala taught him to have confidence in himself. He said this changed him forever.

Director and theatre producer, Mbongeni Ngema, regaled the crowd with anecdotes of humorous moments he had shared with Shabalala, overseas.

Ngema said he knew Shabalala when he was growing up. He said he was happy that Shabalala was able to achieve success in music.

Department of Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said Shabalala “told the world about life in South Africa” using music to overcome language barriers.

He also said Shabalala’s music had a positive message.

Such has been the influence and wide appeal of Shabalala that it has been remixed by house DJs and there is even a Nigerian isicathamiya group, the Beulah Quartet Group.