South African’s hearts broke when Johnny Clegg announced that he was battling cancer. He was diagnosed in 2015 and decided to do one last tour before retiring.
Johnny Clegg was born in the UK but was raised in South Africa. He took an interest in African culture and started playing Zulu street music and performing in traditional Zulu dance competitions. He was arrested at the age of 15 for violating apartheid-era laws in South Africa and started his first band at age 17 with Sipho Mchunu.
Over the years he has spoken out against inequality and human rights violations. He has received some of the most prestigious awards including the South African Presidential Ikhamanga award as part of the National Orders ceremony. This award is the highest honour a citizen can receive in South Africa.
His career has spanned decades and he has a place in the hearts of many South Africans and global citizens. When he announced his cancer diagnosis, love and support flooded in. Recently Johnny shared a post detailing his cancer battle to date.
“On the 9th of April 2015, I was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer. Two days later I had a 7 hour Whipple operation removing half my pancreas, my gallbladder, bile duct, duodenum and half my stomach. Six weeks later I went onto a six months chemotherapy regimen (Gemcitabine) and at the end of November 2015, I was pronounced in remission.”
Sadly a few months later, Johnny’s cancer reappeared and he spent another 6 months fighting it.
“In 2016 I continued with my career but in August the cancer reappeared and I went into another six months of chemo (Folfirinox) and in February 2017, I was again pronounced in remission.”
With his health and life quality coming into question, Johnny decided it was time to step out of the spotlight to focus on family. But loving his fans, he decided to do one last world tour to say goodbye.
“It was decided to do a worldwide Final Journey tour to say farewell to my public supporters while I was still strong and able to perform both mentally and physically.
“I started in South Africa, then London and Dubai but unfortunately, after the USA and Canadian leg in October 2017, the cancer re-emerged again with a very high tumour count as well as lesions in my lungs. This moved my level from stage 2 to stage 4.
“I had to undergo tests and go back on chemo (Abraxane and Gemcitabine).”
Johnny had to pause the tour to focus on getting healthy again.
“The world tour had to be postponed which included France, Switzerland, Australia, Zimbabwe, and Mauritius amongst other places where promoters were interested in staging the Final Journey show.”
It has been just over 6 months since Johnny stepped back to do Chemo once more. He shared an update regarding his current health and that he will most likely have to start radiation.
“Three weeks ago my third 6-month chemo cycle finished. One small lesion in the right upper lung is still slightly active and it will probably have to be removed by radiation treatment. I expect this to be an ongoing challenge.
It has been an incredible journey with incalculable support from my wife Jenny and my sons Jesse and Jaron, as well as extended family, management, friends, musicians, colleagues, oncologists and fans.”
The tour has been considered and Johnny plans to return to Zimbabwe. He spent 7 years of his youth in Zimbabwe, it is a place very close to her heart. While the other locations are only being considered for 2019, Johnny has good news for his fans in France too.
“I will re-commence the world – wide Final Journey concerts for some of the territories abandoned last year due to the health issue, starting with Mauritius and then Zimbabwe. France and other territories will have to wait till 2019 and further prognosis related to my lungs.
The good news is my new album, King of Time will be released France in September and I will spend a week there doing media promoting the album.
Hope to see you somewhere on the road!”
Fans have been flooding the post with well wishes and thanks for the gift of music he gave the world. We too would like to wish Johnny well and thank him for the beauty he creates in his music.