Current United Nations Under-Secretary-General and former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has joined the world in paying tribute to the late founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala.

Mlambo-Ngcuka has praised Shabalala for his work in exporting the genre of isicathamya to the world.

The 78-year-old musical icon died Tuesday morning at a Pretoria hospital.

Mlambo-Ngcuka says: “Shabalala was obviously heritage for SA so our hearts goes to his family, his friends and his children who as I understand are even on tour.”

She says Shabalala¬†put SA on the global stage, on a music genre that people didn’t know about and yet embraced.

“How many people are able to introduce a genre and make it something that trends across nations.”

“But what is nice is that he didn’t die with his talent, he actually left so many other people who are doing what he did, who are embracing his music and in that way our culture is actually being preserved for generations to come. So I can only say Lala Qawe indimayako-ifezile.”

Shabalala has been battling with his health ever since his retirement from the group about five years ago.

Joseph Shabalala was born on 28 August 1941 and was well known for his unique bass vocals.

The group received airplay on Ukhozi FM (then Radio Zulu), which led to a recording contract with Gallo Records in 1970. The group achieved international fame when they collaborated with Paul Simon on his Graceland album in 1986.

The group has scooped five Grammy Awards with the latest as recent as 2018 for Best World Music Album.