Not many celebrities get the rare honour of being celebrated while they are still breathing as the KZN government is planning to do for Joseph Shabalala.
Many South African musicians have died without seeing people celebrate them while they are still alive. However, this will not be the case with the founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala.
While the 76-year-old founder of the internationally acclaimed a capella group is no longer in good health as he used to be, the KwaZulu-Natal government is breaking all protocols to make sure he is celebrated while he’s alive and well.
Therefore, at a two-day inaugural Amagugu Esizwe (Jewels of the Nation) event which will take place this weekend, Shabalala will be celebrated as one of the legends who played a significant role in arts‚ culture and sport in the province.
“The main focus of this event is for the KZN government to honour Dr Shabalala while he is still alive. It is important to always recognise‚ respect and commend the strides made by our home-grown legends‚ said Arts and Culture MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi.
“Dr Shabalala has influenced Isicathamiya‚ a genre that speaks to many South Africans. He has inspired the singing style of numerous groups‚ achieved international stardom‚ found ways to contribute to the empowerment of his community yet remained humble throughout. We applaud this remarkable man.”
As part of the event which will take place at the Alfred Duma Municipality in Ladysmith, there will be an unveiling of a plaque at the Klipriver High School‚ to be named after Shabalala.
Other activities including a fun walk and music festival will form a part of the event. Artists who are expected to perform at the music festival include maskandi musicians Khuzani‚ Mjikijelwa‚ Amageza Amahle and Phuzekhemisi, gospel artists Hlengiwe Mhlaba and Thobekile and of course, the great Mambazo themselves.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo gained world recognition in 1987 following their collaboration with Paul Simon on the award-winning album Graceland. The album produced some of their hit songs such as Homeless and Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.
The group have shared the stage with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton and have three Grammy awards and several nominations to their name.
Indeed there’s no better time to honour such a remarkable man.