Phiri’s death end of an era
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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