Phiri’s death end of an era

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE DEATH of mu­sic icon Ray Chikapa Phiri has stunned South Africa’s mu­sic in­dus­try and un­leashed a flood of con­do­lences from across the coun­try as we mourn one of the great­est artists in our his­tory.

Phiri, 70, leader of the iconic group Stimela, suc­cumbed to lung can­cer yes­ter­day, plung­ing Africa into mourn­ing.

Com­ing just hours af­ter we laid to rest jazz icon Johnny Mekoa, Phiri’s death marks the end of an era of ex­cep­tional artists whose mu­sic kept the hope of the Strug­gle against op­pres­sion alive dur­ing the height of the bru­tal apartheid regime.

He was phe­nom­e­nal. He was a great. He had amaz­ing stage pres­ence and was an artist and deep thinker, as re­flected in his haunt­ing lyrics and the sto­ries told through Stimela’s mu­sic.

On and off the stage, the man pop­u­larly known as Chikapa was an am­bas­sador of the arts, a per­fec­tion­ist who never stopped work­ing.

He was one of the great­est com­posers in the his­tory of African mu­sic. Chikapa’s lyrics re­flected the chal­lenges and as­pi­ra­tions of black peo­ple over many decades.

And in death, as in life, his legacy lives on, his lyrics still haunt us and re­mind us where we come from.

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