The Chief Executive Officer of the KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestras Bongani Tembe says the late founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo  Joseph Shabalala was an international musical giant. Shabalala died in a Pretoria hospital on Tuesday at the age of 78.

In a tribute, Tembe says Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo contributed immensely to the promotion of South African music around the world.

Tembe remembers meeting Shabalala in 1988 in New York while the group was on a tour of the US. Shabalala encouraged him to promote the isicathamiya music genre in South Africa.

A national isicathamiya festival was started in 1996.

In the video below, people including cousin Albert Mazibuko pay tribute to Shabalala: 

‘Dignified funeral’

Meanwhile, The KwaZulu-Natal government has written to the national government requesting it to grant Shabalala an official funeral. Mourners are visiting Shabalala’s home in Ladysmith in the west of the province.

KwaZulu-Natal Arts and Culture MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela, who has also visited the family, says  Shabalala deserves a dignified funeral.

“The entire world would like to be part of his funeral. He was our ambassador. We will do that as the provincial government. We hope that the president will accept our request. Both Zuma and Ramaphosa paid Shabalala a visit during his time of illness. Here we are talking about someone they all know played a major role in shaping Africa.”