The late Jazz musician Dr Philip Nchipi Tabane has been described as an iconic figure, who used his music to give the voiceless a voice.
The 84-year-old, founder of the internationally acclaimed Malombo Jazz group, died last week in Pretoria.
His funeral in Mamelodi on Saturday was attended by the who’s who of the music and arts industry, including Vusi Mahlasela, Welcome Msomi, Dorothy Masuku, Abigail Kubheka and poet Don Mattera.
They only had good things to say about Tabane.
“There are lots of things that die, good people don’t die. Great people don’t die. Those who see nothing in other people they die,” says Matera.
“I was honoured in the 1960s to be introduced to the Malombo music and that was when uPhilip had passed the baton because that’s what we do,” says Kubheka.
Professor Mux Nkondo, who has known Dr Malombo throughout his lifetime, says Tabane’s music continues to live non-stop since he encountered it for the first time in the 1950.
“Would remember the history of the South Africans listening to the wicked guitar. Not me. It seems to me sixty years later, there has always been Malombo Jazz in and around me. Impossible to say precisely when it all began,” says Prof Nkondo.
Meanwhile, the family says it is honoured to have been blessed by such a powerful, gifted and hard working character. Tabane’s daughter Helen Tabane .
“His creative spirit is expressed in a fusion Pedi, Shangaan and Venda. The languages of his ancestoral home. Our dad was one of South Africa’s most respected and innovative vocalist, guitarist and band leader. He has been a mentor to a host of musicians the world over.”
Arts and Culture Director-General Vusi Mkhize, speaking on behalf of Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa, says Tabane is one South Africans who criticised apartheid system when it was no fashionable to do so.
“The department and the government of South Africa put at the centre of the department’s programme, the role that is played by the artists because without the artists we do not have the soul of the country. Arts and Culture has it’s heritage, defines our identity. So the message we have as government is that we must find means and ways to restore and to retain and to preserve the contribution of Ntate Dr Philip Tabane.”
The process is already underway for one of cultural hubs in Mamelodi to be renamed after Dr Philip Nchipi Tabane. He was laid to rest in Mamelodi B3 cemetery.
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