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Ladysmith municipality may be named after Black Mambazo founder

Published Feb 12, 2023


Ladysmith – The northern KwaZulu-Natal municipality of Alfred Duma (Ladysmith) may soon have its name changed.

If the plan gets the nod, including the approval of residents, it may soon be called the Joseph Shabalala Local Municipality.

This mooted name change was hinted at by Zama Sibisi, the current IFP mayor, in Ladysmith on Saturday.

That was during the last day of the series of events held in honour of Shabalala, who died in February 2020 and was granted a state funeral.

The municipality was originally called eMnambithi (its original Zulu name) - Ladysmith Local Municipality.

In 2016, under the ANC, the municipality, after its merger with the then Indaka Local Municipality, was renamed after Alfred Duma, a former Robben Island prisoner and Umkhonto we Sizwe operative, who hails from Ladysmith.

Shabalala was the founder of the still globe-trotting acapella band Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which has won several international awards, including five Grammy awards.

He was born in Ladysmith (Peacetown) but later migrated to live and work in Durban, where he founded the band and named it after his home town.

His home town has since launched an annual event where his work and legacy will be commemorated in various ways.

The inaugural commemoration kicked off early this week with a Grammy exhibition. Residents came to the town hall to view the five Grammy awards won by the band and to learn more about them.

A memorial lecture was held on Friday, followed by the Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala marathon on Saturday. Later on Saturday, a music festival where the band entertained locals for free was to take place.

Sibisi said as a municipality they would never shy away from associating themselves with a global icon like Shabalala as he was always proud of his Ladysmith roots.

Hence they would consider renaming the municipality after him.

“If possible, we will embark on the journey of renaming the municipality because we feel that Joseph Shabalala is the name that is acceptable to everybody. Acceptable to the Christians, to the politicians, to everybody, a neutral person.

“We feel that it is proper to name even the municipality after him,” Sibisi said without explaining when this process would kick off.

One of Shabalala’s sons, Vuyo Shabalala, told IOL that they don’t want the name of their father to be forgotten, but to linger on forever.

“So, we don’t want the name somehow to be forgotten, but we want to preserve it for generations and generations to come.

“That is why we have introduced a series of activities that spearhead and talk to all the spheres of the community,” he said.

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