SA mourns the passing of Tsepo 'The Village Pope' Tshola
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Music giant Tsepo Tshola died at a hospital in Lesotho on Thursday morning, his death sending shockwaves across the continent. He was 67.
The family spokesperson and publicist Thanduxolo Jindela said that the jazz legend died from Covid-19 related illness.
“Tsepo Mobu Tshola, Sankomota’s world-renowned ‘Village Pope’ succumbed to a Covid-19 related illness this (Thursday) morning in Teyateyaneng, Lesotho,” said Jindela.
Singer and former member of the legendary band “Twins” Tebogo Sithathu said he was shocked by Tshola’s untimely death.
“Bra Tshepo was a darling. What a talent! We've toured with him together with Sankomota, and Frank Leepa. We used to tour different countries then. I've got very fond memories of bra Tshepo.
“I was just hoping that this was fake news honestly but I received a phone call this morning from Mzwakhe Mbuli asking to confirm whether this is true,” said Sithathu.
He added: “I've received such a call before and it was fake news because I called bra Tshepo and we spoke... unfortunately, this time it's true it's not fake news.
“May his blessed beautiful soul and spirit rest in eternal peace. And I want to say to the family, the industry, friends, and those he raised like us, Lalani ngenxeba, Akwehlanga olungehliyo.”
Growing up in a musical family, at an age of 17, Tshola became a vocalist for the Lesotho Blue Diamonds. Shortly after, he joined Frank Leepa’s Anti Antiques, which became one of Lesotho’s hottest bands in the early 70s.
He later reconnected with Leepa and together with Moss Nkofo, Black Jesus, Moruti Selate, Pitso Sera started a new band called Uhuru, which was later renamed Sankomota, which toured South Africa for the first time in 1975.
The band was banned several times from performing in South Africa.
The apartheid government accused them of promoting politically enticing messages through their music to the black community.
The band continued performing around the world and during one of their international tours, Tshola met Hugh Masekela and they became best friends.
Masekela then invited Tshola to join him on his tours to Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho and later, America and Europe.
At the end of the tour, Tshola decided not to return to Lesotho and remained in London. He later moved to South Africa where he took permanent residency.
When Samkomota disbanded, Tsholo’s solo career kicked in.
His career spans nearly five decades, where he composed timeless tracks that includes “Beaulah Land”, “Butle Butle”, “Ho Lokile”, “House of the Lord”, “Indlala”, “Joala”, “Kithigithi”, “Lehlaphahlapha”, “Shine Your Light” and more.
Tributes continued to pour in from fans and friends as they remembered Tshola.
“Tshepo Tshola was my homeboy, he comes from (TY) Teyateyaneng in Lesotho and I am from Maseru. I remember when his mother passed away, I was there and the family is a family of musicians, what a beautiful family.
“The last time I saw Tshepo was at Gold Reef where he was performing. ’Bekufiwa’.
“The performance was out of this world. What a lovely man, what a legend. May his soul rest in peace,” said Lillian Dube.
“I met Ntate Tsepo Tshola 17/18 years ago, at Bassline, he was rehearsing to perform at the festival.
“The last time I saw him was in December where we were performing together in Lesotho. His legacy will live on and he will be sadly missed” commented guitarist and composer Billy Monama.
Legendary singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka said: “Tsepo Tshola was a great musician a leader, a born leader.
“I don't even know what to say now that he is no more. We did a show together in Botswana two years ago and we had such a great time. His music will always live on.”