By Novell Zwangendaba

The African National Congress (ANC) says it is saddened by the death of one of South Africa’s legendary musician uMama uBusi Mhlongo.ANC National Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said, “Her passing on after a long illness is a huge loss to South Africa, particularly the music fraternity. Her passing away has robbed us of a contribution she would have continued to make in the development of music in South Africa.’

“We join many South Africans in paying tribute to this music icon who became a beacon of hope and inspired many artists and individuals in our country and abroad.”

Born in a musical family at Inanda in the then Natal, Mama Mhlongo used her talent to inspire social, economic, cultural and political change in the country. As a young star, she was given a small drum and two sticks and encouraged to sing at weddings, in church choirs and at school. She left school to pursue a musical career in Johannesburg and became a member of African Jazz. She then found herself living in Portugal via Mozambique and Angola with the group Conjunto Juan Paulo. She watched audiences applaud songs sung in Angolan languages as well as Portuguese and was invited to sing her own songs.

Mama Mhlongo was a brilliant singer, dancer and composer whose music defies categorisation. Drawing on various South African styles such as mbaqanga, maskanda, marabi and traditional Zulu music, fused at various times with contemporary elements from jazz, funk, rock, gospel, rap, opera, reggae and West African sounds in a fresh and exciting mix.Her infectious music has a universal appeal and so does Mama Mhlongo’s singing style & stage presence.

“Her lyrics which are sung in Zulu and English will remain with us for many decades to come and will be part of our country’s history and heritage. We were indeed privileged to have known and lived in her lifetime.” said Mthembu.

“At this hour of great loss, our thoughts are with her family, friends and fellow musicians. May her soul rest in peace.”