In paying tribute to the late Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo, some political parties have hailed him as an iconic composer who has left a void in the country’s music fraternity. He died on Tuesday, a day after his birthday due to a long illness.
The family of Khumalo has asked for privacy to mourn his passing.
Described by many as a unifier, Professor Khumalo formed part of the committee that combined Nkosi Sikelel’Africa and Die Stem into the country’s national anthem.
He is a celebrated composer and custodian of choral and traditional music, which he accomplished through hard work. His son, Diliza, says they will forever cherish his role as a father and grandfather to their family.
“He was a very hard-working man. What I picked up from him – it doesn’t matter how much talent you have if you don’t work hard it will be wasted. He put a lot of effort into what God had already given him and that’s why he was able to achieve so much academically and in his music. We are very grateful for the love people are sending us and we really do need it because we are going through a tough time,” he says.
The ANC, in a statement, described Khumalo as a fountain of wisdom and human encyclopedia on indigenous music, adding that he was able to capture the history of the country and tell the story of the nation through music.
The DA’s Tsepo Mhlongo says the party is saddened by the news of his passing.
“We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of professor Mzilikazi Khumalo. We express our deepest condolences to the Khumalo family; we appreciate his work, his dedication towards South Africa – and we note the role he played, he is our hero and icon – a composer who composed the national anthem, Nkosi Sikelela I-Afrika and die stem into the national anthem. Sidangele ngalamazwi. We say, let us celebrate his life,” says Mhlongo.
Cannan Mdletshe of the National Freedom Party (NFP) agrees.
“Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo’s death leaves a huge void in the music fraternity in the country. As a composer of note, professor Khumalo was a unifier and contributor in South Africa and the continent at large. His music echoed all over the continent and he ensured that he unites the people of Africa, in particular of South Africa. And when he composed the current national anthem ensured that the people of the country can sing the national anthem with pride.”
Heloise Denner of the Freedom Front Plus says the role played by Professor Khumalo will forever mean a lot to all South Africans.
“The passing of professor Mzilikazi Khumalo is a huge loss in our country, he was a great contributor to the arts in South Africa, as a composer and an icon of choral music who helped understand the universal language of music, that unified us in the form of the national anthem. Our most sincere condolences to his friends and family.”
Tributes continue to pour in for Prof Mzilikazi Khumalo:
The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) has described the music composer as a hero who was forth when it came to issues of unity.
“A classical music conductor of note, a composer, established academic and a national icon, are just some of the accolades afforded to professor Khumalo. Born on the 30th of June 1932 in Vreyid district, professor Khumalo recently celebrated 89 years on this earth and unfortunately, he left us in the early hours of Tuesday morning. He was not just a national hero, but was also a family man as described by many members of his family,” says the party.
COPE National Spokesperson, Dennis Bloem, says the country is poorer as a result of this death.
“Our country is poor by the passing on of choral music conductor, composer, and teacher – professor Mzilikazi Khumalo. We have lost a giant in African music. But we know that his legacy will live on, his legacy and music will not die, it will live forever. We are passing our sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and the entire music fraternity. May his soul rest in peace.”
ATM Spokesperson, Zama Ntshona, agrees.
“We are going through a very difficult time as a country right now. We are losing black excellence, especially in the field of arts in a very short period of time. Professor Khumalo is truly head and shoulders about that, amongst many of his attributes and works, he was a stalwart of the arts, youth development, and an advocate for the recognition of African languages for modern use. He leaves us at a time when we need Africans to tell African stories in our own perspective.”
Professor Khumalo had a role in the political front, which former IFP leader, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, says will forever be cherished.
“He will be remembered for having been asked by our late founding president Nelson Mandela to blend the three anthems, into what is now, the South African national anthem. I remember vividly the visit he paid to present his work after he had blended these anthems in the cabinet. That by itself is a great accolade. But for me of course his greatest achievement was in composing the first African opera, which was performed with such acclaim internationally, to an extent that he was invited to Europe and the united states.”
Whilst the EFF lobbied for the removal of Die Stem from the national anthem.
Die Stem was the national anthem of Apartheid South Africa from 1957 to 1994, in 1997; both songs were merged that formed the country’s national anthem.
The EFF refuses to sing that part of the anthem.
The Khumalo family has yet to share funeral arrangements.
In conversation with the son of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika contributing composer: