KZN Premier pays tribute to Joseph Shabalala

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to honour Joseph Shabalala, the founder of the Grammy Award-winning isicathamiya group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with a Special Official Funeral Category 2.

Shabalala passed away on 11 February 2020, at the age of 78, following a long illness.

President Ramaphosa has instructed that the National Flag fly at half-mast until the evening of 22 February 2020.

Zikalala said Shabalala, who had steered Ladysmith Black Mambazo to unprecedented international glory over many decades, deserved a fitting send-off because of his influence on isicathamiya, a genre that speaks to many South Africans.

“We truly applaud President Ramaphosa’s decision to honour Mshengu [Shabalala’s clan name] 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,” said Zikalala.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo has shared the stage with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton, and have five Grammies to their name.

The group gained worldwide prominence in 1987 after their collaboration with Paul Simon on the award-winning album Graceland, which produced hits such as Homeless and Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.

The group‚ which the late 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 his grandsons.

Zikalala has once again expressed his condolences to the Mshengu family, his children, friends and relatives, as well as members of the Mambazo group on their loss of this iconic artist.

The memorial services are planned to take place in Ladysmith, Durban and Johannesburg, between Tuesday and Thursday.

The funeral arrangements are already underway, and President Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the eulogy at Shabalala’s funeral to be held in his hometown, Ladysmith on Saturday, 22 February 2020. –

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