The KwaZulu-Natal government has written to the national government to request an official funeral for the founder of the multi-award winning music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Joseph Shabalala died in a Pretoria hospital on Tuesday at the age of 78.

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

She says: “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 former president Jacob Zuma and President Cyril 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.”

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Meanwhile, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) has urged the country’s youth to emulate Shabalala by taking South Africa’s cultural music abroad.

Contralesa president Kgosi Larmeck Mokoena says the whole world is aware of isichathamiya music because Shabalala was not ashamed of his culture.

He says: “We are saddened by his passing because he was one of the best musicians in the country. He was not ashamed to promote his own culture and tradition.”

“The whole world knows South Africa, it knows KwaZulu-Natal, it knows Ladysmith because of Joseph Shabalala and his group.”

“We want to call upon the youth and all up and coming musicians to not be ashamed of being identified as an African.”