We loved the mes­sage in the mu­sic, Bra Ray

CityPress - - Voices -

Dur­ing the dark days of apartheid, the mu­sic of Ray Chikapa Phiri and his jazz band, Stimela, brought hope to many in the strug­gle.

His mu­sic went be­yond en­ter­tain­ment and ed­u­ca­tion. It car­ried the mes­sage that many in the coun­try, as well as those out­side South Africa’s bor­ders, wanted to hear.

It was a sound ex­hort­ing us that the strug­gle was con­tin­u­ing, a mes­sage of hope that to­mor­row would be bet­ter. For that, we are grate­ful.

Through mu­sic, Phiri and Stimela in­spired many other artists to play their part in the strug­gle against the op­pres­sive gov­ern­ment of the day.

South Africans clearly un­der­stood the call to stand up against the sys­tem when Stimela belted Whis­pers in the Deep’s verse: Un­gahlebi, Speak your mind. Don’t be afraid. Don’t whis­per in the deep. Speak out your mind. Stand up! Wake up! There’s still sleep right in your eye. Call me an­gry, call me mad. A soul that whis­pers in the deep. I’m in­spired. But I can’t un­der­stand hate.

Phiri’s stage per­for­mances were a marvel to be­hold. From his dance moves, which were un­matched, to his style of gui­tar play, he was unique and en­ter­tain­ing.

He was a hero who did South Africa proud and placed the coun­try’s mu­sic among the world’s top record­ings.

Af­ter 70 years, Bra Ray, you had to go to an­other life, and South Africa is thank­ful to have hosted you. You gave back to this coun­try many more times than you could imag­ine. Gen­er­a­tions to come will re­mem­ber you.

This quote from the muso says it all: “The pur­pose of mu­sic is to com­mu­ni­cate some­thing ... Some of our songs will out­live us. I will pass on and the songs will still be played be­cause I in­vested in writ­ing songs for the peo­ple.”

Siyabonga for the mu­sic.

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