Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
3 minute read
26 Jul 2019
2:49 pm

IN PICS: Memorial service of legendary Johnny Clegg brings SA to tears

Kaunda Selisho

Proceedings were led by Dr John Kani, with many prominent musicians in attendance to pay tribute to Clegg's legendary career and persona.

Musicians pay tribute to music legend Johnny Clegg. Pictures: Tracy Lee Stark

The memorial of late music legend Johnny Clegg is currently underway, with actor, director, and playwright Dr Bonsile John Kani leading the proceedings.

Kani did well to immortalise the work of Clegg and revolutionary artists, saying he would like to believe that artists’ work lives on long after they have passed on.

“Johnny is a complete book, and I want his friends and loved ones to put it in the library and revisit it often when they remember him.”

Minister of Arts and Culture and Sports and Recreation Nathi Mthethwa then took to the stage to lead the address.

Mthethwa described Clegg’s music as life-changing and life-affirming.

“He was a symbol of reconciliation. A true African who understood African culture.”

When Mthethwa was first appointed to his portfolio, he reminisced how Clegg was his initial point of reference for the concept of social cohesion and nation-building.

A visibly emotional Jesse Clegg said a few words about his father, before introducing a tribute song he and Clegg worked on before he passed away.

Jessie Clegg pays tribute to his father Johnny Clegg, 26 July 2019. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

A former Juluka band member of Clegg, Sipho Mchunu, took the opportunity to say a few words about Clegg, who he described as a friend, brother, and frequent collaborator.

Mchunu partnered with Clegg from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Sipho Mchunu pays tribute to Johnny Clegg, 26 July 2019. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

He then brought out an acoustic guitar, graced the memorial audience with a performance to pay tribute to the late musician.

Author, columnist, and documentary filmmaker Max du Preez also addressed attendees, saying that Clegg’s music was a symbol of “what we could have been and where we could have gone as a people on the southernmost tip of Africa”.

The memorial’s stage was then filled with musician and Freshlyground frontwoman Zolani Mahola, as well as the Soweto Gospel choir in a moving cover of one of Clegg and Savuka’s songs, Asimbonanga.

Emotional South African music legends then gathered on stage to sing Clegg and Savuka’s The Crossing (O Siyeza). Many of them were overcome with emotion.

Clegg’s two sons, Jesse and Jaron, took a moment to thank everyone who had been there for them, starting with their mother, Jenny.

The memorial service wrapped up with a music video for Johnny Clegg and Savuka’s Take my Heart Away. The music video was directed by Clegg’s son, Jaron.

Johnny Clegg passed away at the age of 66. The Savuka and Juluka frontman succumbed to his illness after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Clegg is survived by his wife of 31 years, Jenny, and their two sons, Jesse and Jaron.

All pictures by Tracy Lee Stark. 

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