South Africa and the world have lost a legendary musician and pioneer of the isiZulu-based genre Iscathamiya, Joseph Shabalala.

President Cyril Ramaphosa joined the country by expressing his deep sadness at the passing of the Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder.

“The passing of Joseph Shabalala is a terribly sad moment for a nation and a world in whose ears the isicathamiya and mbube crafted by Ladysmith Black Mambazo will ring for generations to come,” said President Ramaphosa.

Shabalala passed away on Tuesday (February 11) morning at the age of 78, following a long illness. He retired from the Isicathamiya music group in 2014.

President Ramaphosa offered his deep condolences to the family and friends of the veteran choral maestro as well as the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo which has, as a group, been in existence for six decades.

Shabalala’s passing comes as the world marks the 30th anniversary of the late icon and statesman Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

“Today the spirit of Joseph Shabalala is united with that of our great leader, Nelson Mandela, whose release from prison we are commemorating.

“Madiba was a loyal follower of Ladysmith Black Mambazo who had the distinction of being part of the cultural programme at the Nobel ceremony where our Founding President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,” said the President.

The President said Ladysmith Black Mambazo richly deserved the National Order of Ikhamanga which the choral group was awarded in October 2008. Under the lead of Shabalala, the group won four Grammy Awards, amongst many other accolades.

Gauteng Sports Department has also conveyed its condolences mourns Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder, Joseph Shabalala.

“His vision put the country and the entire Africa on the international map. He made his group a mobile academy of South African cultural heritage through the indigenous isicathamiya music.” said the department in a tweet.

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