Pretoria - Legendary musician and songwriter Steve Kekana would have been bitterly disappointed to hear of his sudden demise because he was a healer and full of life.
That’s how he has been described by fellow artists after the 62-year-old ended his innings at the Pietersburg Provincial Hospital yesterday morning.
Details of his death were still unclear, but were confirmed yesterday afternoon by his younger brother Lucky Kekana.
“As I speak to you, I’m still in hospital getting together with the family to decide what to do next. But I can confirm to you that Steve has passed on,” Lucky said.
One of the announcements came on a video through social media by a teary Paledi Matji saying Kekana had fallen sick the night before, and had been taken to hospital, only to hear of his death yesterday morning.
Malatji, who has been Kekana’s producer and pianist since 2009 told Pretoria News yesterday that he was paralysed by the news because they were working on a project that had already had a name.
“I’m paralysed my brother. I am left in the dark. We were working on a project in studio. I don’t know what to say except we have not only lost a singer but we have lost the last healer we had.
“When I played the piano during his set, in the middle of (it I)just start crying. He was a healer, full of life and he loved everyone. Can you believe one of his favourite musicians was King Monday?” asked Malatji.
Host of Straight Talk Lethabo Ramokgopa, which runs online and was one of the last programmes to interview Kekana, said her team was deeply saddened by his sudden passing as she still had major plans and work to do with the Limpopo giant.
“What will remain with us is his lifetime hits and sweet voice that never failed to melt even the hardest heart,” Ramokgopa said.
Limpopo MEC for Arts and Culture Thandi Moraka said she was shocked of the news.
She said: “The death of bra Steve has left many of us in the province shocked. His contribution in the arts, particularly in music has left a void and he will never be forgotten. We send out heartfelt condolences to his family and fans.”
The award-winning musician lost his eyesight at the age of 5. However, against the odds was able to bag 40 records under his belt. He was a qualified advocate and recently received an honorary doctorate from Unisa.
“We join the rest of the country and the music fraternity in expressing our sincerest condolences to the Kekana family and relatives during their time of bereavement. They are in our prayers and we wish them strength during this difficult time in their lives”, said Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Puleng LenkaBula.
His manager, Xolani Majozi, said he had been interacting with Kekana just a few days ago and he was fine.
“I think it was a short illness and he was rushed to the hospital,” he said.
Majozi worked with Kekana for the past five years as his manager and producer of his last album, Wela. “We were also involved in a number of shows. We did a tribute concert for him in 2017 – Iphupho: The Dream.
“The show was aimed at celebrating his life and taking his friends through the journey of his music career. It was a great success. This last album (Wela) was unfortunately his last one.”
Majozi said before Kekana’s death they were planning to do a concert for him as the Take Your Love singer wanted to record a live DVD of his work. “We were in pre-production trying to put the concept together and putting together the song selections. He was a wonderful person, very knowledgeable about the industry and an advocate for other artists.
“I learnt a lot from him because he was well versed in legal issues and the business pertaining to the music industry. He was more like a father to me because he was much older than me.
“His moral values and how he viewed things in life was something I learnt a lot from.”
After losing his sight, the singer-songwriter went on to attend a school for the blind where he honed his talents.
Kekana was one of the founding members of the Southern African Disabled Musicians’ Association.
Its chairperson John Mothopeng said Kekana’s death was a major loss. “We would all brag about him and his successes, encouraging others to look upon him as motivation. He was an asset and an intellectual,” he said.
Mothopeng added that Kekana was the association’s go-to legal person, assisting in formulating the constitution for the organisation.
“He was co-operative and sympathetic, very dedicated to the artists. He got the opportunity to work for the arts department and he had so many hits.
“He was very precious to us disabled people and the association wants to send its condolences to the family, we are so sorry,” said Mothopeng.
He added that the multi-award-winning Kekana, who received more than 70 Golden Disc Awards, was a pioneer who was destined for success.
Kekana’s discography includes 33 albums between 1977 and 2018. He worked with the likes of the late Ray Phiri, Nana Coyote, Joe Nina and Hotline featuring PJ Thandeka Powers.
Nina, who was recently recording with Kekana, said he would hold on to all their memories. “He was an amazing and joyful person. More than anything he was very intellectual. He played a big role in my life as a father figure.”