The funeral service for legendary Xitsonga music icon Samson Mthombeni will be held at N’waxinyamani village, outside Louis Trichardt in Limpopo, on Saturday.

Mthombeni passed away aged 74. He carved his music career in the early 70s.

The bereaved family says they’ll abide by the lockdown regulations when holding the funeral service. The regulations prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.

Family spokesperson Righton Mthombeni says though the lockdown has its challenges, they hope to have finalised the preparations before the end of this week.

The provincial Arts and Culture department has however urged the mourners to observe social distancing to avoid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Xitsonga music icon

Mthombeni is one of the pioneers of Xitsonga-Xichangana traditional music. He recorded his first album in the early 70s. His music topped the charts in the 70s and 80s.

Before recording a music album, Mthombeni was an amateur boxer. He later honed his skills in guitar and became a household name. He also performed in the UK.

His widow, Miluva Mthomeni, says he was passionate about his music career. “He started by playing boxing at Westgate before participating in traditional dances. He also loved music a lot. He would wake up in the middle of the night and start singing, saying he had dreamt of a song. He had a love for music.”

The 2018 interview he did on Munghana Lonene FM: 

Funeral arrangements 

The bereaved Mthombeni family says it is working hard to make arrangements for the funeral service during a difficult period.

The family spokesperson Righton Mthombeni says though there’s a lockdown which is restricting people’s movements, they hope to have concluded the preparations before the end of this week.

The preparations are ongoing and as a family, we’ve now decided to lay him to rest on Saturday the 10th of this month and the service will take place at his home yard thereafter we’ll lay him to rest in the Nwaxinyamani cemetery on Saturday the lockdown is a stumbling block but however we don’t have any choice we’re pushing and pressing that by Thursday we must have now concluded everything.

Limpopo’s Arts and Culture MEC Thandi Moraka has sent the message of condolences to the family and the fans of Mthombeni’s music.

“We’re saddened by the passing on of one of our Xitsonga music legends Mr Samson Mthombeni and we want to take this opportunity and send our heartfelt condolences to the family and also to the fans both locally, the province, the country and also abroad. He was an international legend, and we want to say indeed that the loss is the loss of a province. It is a loss of the country. May the family receive our heartfelt condolences.”

Moraka has also encouraged the mourners to observe the social distancing to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus.

“We want to take this opportunity and also urge our people, in particular, the mourners they must observe the protocol that is being set by the president where they are encouraged to observe social distancing and also make sure that there’re hygienic measures that they put in place so that we don’t spread the virus.”

Meanwhile, the fans of the Xitsonga music have embarked on Samson Mthombeni challenge by wearing a doek and some traditional gear. The challenge also included some radio personalities.

Tributes 

One of the surviving band members, Rose N’wa-Shigulani, says Mthombeni will be sorely missed.

“I am heartbroken. His death is a blow to me. I was the first person to sing with him. I remember the first song we recorded together titled “famba manghimani xifaki xa mumu”.

His daughter, Constonia Mthombeni, says it will be challenging to hold the funeral service during the lockdown. The lockdown regulations prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people and stress social distancing.

She says they have to manage the situation. “People have to appreciate that things won’t be the same. They’ll have to give each other a chance to attend people who were working with my father. They’ll have to be given a chance to come, we’ll have to divide people by 50 we already have the sanitisers, we have some sanitisers inside the house. There will be people at the gate to help people to wash their hands.”