JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his deep sadness at the death of cultural icon Jonas Gwangwa on Saturday at the age of 83.
In a statement on Saturday, the president said his thoughts and prayers were with Gwangwa’s family, friends, colleagues, comrades and followers across South Africa, the continent and the rest of the world.
Gwangwa was a globally recognised and awarded composer, arranger, producer and jazz trombonist. He was an Esteemed Member of the National Order of Ikhamanga.
In 1985, he narrowly escaped death when his home was blown up by the apartheid security forces. He then spent more than 30 years travelling the world as an exile, collecting accolades wherever he went.
The musician emerged from the humble environs of Orlando East in Soweto and delighted audiences in Sophiatown until it became illegal for black people to congregate and South African musicians were jailed merely for practising their craft.
In spite of the restrictions, he would play with virtually every band of the era including Kippie Moeketsi, Abdullah Ibrahim, Johnny Gertze and Makhaya Ntshoko.
He was also a compatriot of iconic musicians such as Ahmad Jamal, Herb Alpert, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and Caiphus Semenya.
“A giant of the country’s revolutionary cultural movement and democratic creative industries has been called to rest,” President Ramaphosa said.
“The trombone that boomed with boldness and bravery, and equally warmed our hearts with mellow melody has lost its life force.
“Jonas Gwanga ascends to our great orchestra of musical ancestors whose creative genius and dedication to the freedom of all South Africans inspired millions in our country and mobilised the international community against the apartheid system.
“As we mourn the loss of many precious lives around us, we pray also that the soul of Jonas Gwangwa will rest in peace,” he concluded.