Tributes pour in for the late Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo

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Government has joined South Africans in mourning the passing of one of the country’s revered choral music composers and conductors, Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo.

Professor Khumalo passed away on Tuesday (June 22) at the age of 89.

He was born on 20 June 1932, to parents who were in the Salvation Army Ministries.

Most of his music was in isiZulu and, having lived in rural KwaZulu-Natal, his compositions reflected his religion and tradition.

He helped put together the first Zulu opera, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu.

It was an opera showcasing the work written by the princess, who was also the mother of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The late Sibongile Khumalo released an album in 2005 which included music from that opera.

“Prof Khumalo was a colossal figure in South Africa’s arts and cultural landscape. He was undoubtedly an authority in literature and African languages, who deserved every accolade that he received in his lifetime,” said Minister Nathi Mthethwa upon hearing of his passing.

“As the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, we celebrate his contribution to the arts and heritage landscape and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, his friends and to the industry at large. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture said in a statement.

Khumalo is also known for being a prominent folksong arranger‚ choral composer and choir director.

Most notably, Khumalo was part of the committee that amalgamated the Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika prayer with Die Stem to form the post-apartheid South African national anthem.

Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo in his heydays

His music continues to feature prominently in music festivals and competitions in the country and abroad.

Gauteng MEC pays her respects

Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Mbali Hlophe joined the people of Gauteng, the Creative Industries and the rest of South Africa in mourning the passing of choral music giant and composer.

Prof Mzi Khumalo was a resource for the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation on choral music.

Reflecting on his role and contribution to the creative industry, MEC Hlophe recalled that;

“The iconic Professor started working with the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation in 2002 to pioneer the Gauteng Choral Music Festival.

In 2004 he assisted with the establishment of Gauteng Choral Competition as the chairperson of the music prescribing team.

In 2005 he went on to assist the department in establishing Gauteng Choristers which was made up of choristers from various choirs of Gauteng. The choir went on to compete at the National Choir Festivals.

In 2007 he chaired a panel that worked on identifying and selecting deserving local choral music composers for their contribution to choral music.”

“uMtungwa will be sorely missed for the role he played in fostering Social Cohesion and a common National identity by being a part of a team that worked on the amalgamation of ‘Nkosi Sikelela’ iAfrika and Die Stem into the current South African National Anthem.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Prof Mzi Khumalo’s family. On behalf of the people of Gauteng, MEC Mbali Hlophe extends our deepest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and the entire creative industries,” said MEC Hlophe.

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