Mbongeni Ngema. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips

This year will see three veterans of music presented with the prestigious SAMA Lifetime Achievement Award. Spokes H, Steve Kekana and Mbongeni Ngema have been dimmed fit by the organising committee as the worthy honourees of 2018. 

Shashika Mooruth is the recipient of the International Achiever Award.

Spokes H will be honoured posthumously. Born Letona Spokes Hlatshwayo, he became a household name in the 1980s with hit songs such as Tamatisous and carried on the winning streak into the 1990s with anthems like Rabaki and Peace Magents. Spokes H is remembered for his irreverent and comical lyrics. 

He died aged 45 in 2013.

Steve Kekana, 59, lost his sight at age five and attended a school for the blind in Polokwane. He discovered his singing voice there and became a member of amateur groups as a teen. In 1979 and 1980 he won the SABC Black Music Award as the best male vocalist. 

His song Raising My Family was a hit in Europe. He has more than 40 albums to his credit and gave a generation a soundtrack with chart toppers like Feel So Strong (featuring Hotline). Kekana holds B Juris and LLB degree and is an advocate and a lecturer in Labour Law at the University of South Africa.

A day after his 62nd birthday, Mbongeni Ngema’s talent that straddles the worlds of music, theatre and film with great ease will be honoured. A writer, lyricist, composer, director and theatre producer, he started his career as a theatre backing guitarist. 

He is synonymous with some of the nation’s most iconic theatre and film productions such as Sarafina! Woza Albert, Asinamali and Magic at 4am that all boast stunning soundtracks that he composed. 

His greatest hit Stimela Sase Zola catapulted him to the heights of music acclaim and popularity. Ngema has released over 10 albums to date. With a knack to discover talent, it’s through his works that countless singers, actors, playwrights, composers, choreographers and theatrical directors found their voice.

Shashika Mooruth has put South Africa on the map in Indian music. She has achieved a lot not only as a recording artist but as a producer too. Her album Krishna, The Flute Player featured on the Billboard charts on its release. Her single It’s Sa Ga Sa Ga Ma was nominated in the Best World Music Song at the Roundglass Music Awards in the US this year. Her song The Flute Breathes was also nominated for the Global Peace Song Awards in World Music category in the US last year.

She has enjoyed critical acclaim with Krishna, The Flute Player all over the world with rave reviews flowing in including a Top 100 spot in the World Albums for the first round voting at The Grammys. Her music has been included in the Music Appreciation and World Music classes at Emerson College in Boston. Accomplished composer and arranger Menlikol who lectures on the subject wrote that he chose the album for its stunning production, amazing arrangements and incredible compositions.

Commented Nhlanhla Sibisi, RiSA CEO: "We salute this year's recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Their sterling careers will not go unnoticed and these accolades are reminders of how they contributed to the music industry. Congratulations to Spokes H posthumously, Steve Kekana and Mbongeni Ngema. You did us proud. In the same breath the SAMA sees the achievements on the international scale of Shashika Mooruth befitting of the International Achiever Award. South African music is in good stead with talents of her magnitude and we say well done to the daughter of the soil."

"These two awards are pretty special in the broader spectrum of the Sama accolades," said Mme OR Mochware, MEC for the North West Department of Culture, Arts and Traditional Affairs (Cata), which is the main sponsor of Sama 24. "These individuals have earned their stripes in the entertainment industry with their enormous influence not only to their peers, but also to the broader community as well. 

To us, they represent the true spirits of former President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu, whose centenaries we are celebrating this year. In that spirit, may their influence in the industry continue for many years to come - for the benefit of our artists, particularly the youth."

* The SAMA24 award ceremony is on 2 June 2018 and will be broadcast live from Sun City, North West on SABC1 at 8pm.

Tickets are on sale at Ticketpro at R395.