Ramaphosa and Nelson Mandela Foundation mourn Johnny Clegg

President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have joined the nation in mourning the loss of the music legend!


Johannesburg, South Africa – President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his heartfelt sadness at the passing in recent days of anti-apartheid cultural activists, performers and National Order of Ikhamanga recipients Jonathan “Johnny” Clegg and Mama Nomhle Nkonyeni.

Clegg passed away on Tuesday in the presence of his family following an extended illness.

The award-winning singer, songwriter, anthropologist and academic was 66-years-old.

“A beloved, inspirational and heroic voice has fallen silent and leaves all of us bereft of an exceptional compatriot and icon of social cohesion and non-racialism,” said President Ramaphosa.

The President offered his condolences to Clegg’s family, friends and followers and the broad range of artists and organisations with whom he collaborated in South Africa and internationally.

During his performance career of four decades, Clegg sold more than five million albums.

“Johnny Clegg’s special relationship with Sipho Mchunu in Juluka, as well as with Dudu Zulu in Savuka, gave apartheid-era South Africa a window on the non-racial South Africa we were determined to achieve,” said the President.

“Johnny Clegg will always live on in our hearts and our homes as we replay his stirring blend of cultural celebration and political resistance. We have lost a special patriot.”

In 2012, Clegg became an esteemed member of the National Order of Ikhamanga – awarded in silver – for his excellent contribution to and achievement in the field of bridging African traditional music with other music forms, promoting racial understanding among racially divided groups in South Africa under difficult apartheid conditions, working for a non-racial society and being an outstanding spokesperson for the release of political prisoners.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation also says South Africa will always be grateful for the life and work of musician and activist Jonathan “Johnny” Clegg.

The foundation joined the nation in mourning the loss of the music legend, who passed away after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. The 66-year-old died at his family home in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“The loss of Johnny Clegg will be felt deeply by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Johnny was a friend of the Foundation from its inception and supported many of Madiba’s projects. We will miss him and his enormous energy. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, and with everyone who was touched by his music,” the foundation said.

Foundation chairperson Professor Njabulo Ndebele recalled how in the early 1980s when he was studying in the United States, his father – a lover of the arts – visited and brought along with him two LPs (long playing) by Johnny Clegg.

“My family and I played them over and over. That music became one of our emotional connections to home,” Ndebele said.

Also paying tribute to the music icon, Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang said the way Clegg lived his life exemplified an embrace of ‘the other’ and generosity towards those one disagrees with.

“South Africa needs that energy and those attributes desperately today, when too often we find that colour matters more than character, affiliation more than principle, and reward more than service. We will always be grateful for the life and work of Johnny Clegg. Siyabonga kakhulu (thank you very much). Hamba kahle mfowethu (farewell brother),” Hatang said.

In 1996, Madiba, who had the greatest respect for Clegg, described his music as combining “the strains of hope and despair”.

Sources: South African Government News 
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