Joseph Shabalala. Picture: Marilyn Bernard  African News Agency (ANA)
Joseph Shabalala. Picture: Marilyn Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Ramaphosa to deliver a eulogy at Joseph Shabalala’s funeral

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Feb 17, 2020

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Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to honour Professor Joseph Shabalala, the iconic late founder and leader of five time Grammy Award-winning Isicathamiya group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with a Category Two Special Official Funeral has been lauded by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala. 

Shabalala, 78, died on February 11, at the Life Eugene Marais Hospital in Pretoria following a long illness.

In his honour Ramaphosa, who is expected to deliver a eulogy at Shabalala’s funeral, has also instructed that the national flag fly at half-mast until the evening of February 22, the day Shabalala will be laid to rest in his hometown of Ladysmith. 

Zikalala said that Shabalala deserved a fitting send off due to his influence in Isicathamiya, “a genre that speaks to many South Africans”.

“We truly applaud President Ramaphosa’s decision to honour Mshengu with a special official funeral. As the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, we are deeply humbled that this remarkable son of the soil will be given a fitting send-off.  

“Despite his international stardom, Mshengu has remained humble and has inspired many Isicathamiya groups who saw him as their role model. He has also contributed greatly to the empowerment of his community in various ways,” Zikalala said.

The world-renowned group, which former president Nelson Mandela once described as South Africa’s “ambassadors of song"‚ is now led by Shabalala’s sons Sibongiseni‚ Thulani‚ Thami and Msizi and it also includes his grandsons. 

“Shabalala formed the group because of a series of dreams he had for over a period of six months during the late 1950s. He described this as ‘beautiful sounds featuring a choir singing in perfect harmony and one not achieved by any group at the time’,” said Zikalala..

Ladysmith Black Mambazo manager Xolani Majozi described Shabalala as a global icon, a valued and celebrated father figure of “our rainbow nation”. 

Political Bureau

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