Farewell ‘Bra’ Ray Phiri
STIMELA has finally gone off the rails. The legendary “Bra” Ray Chikapa Phiri will sing and dance no more. He succumbed to lung cancer.
He was more than a musician. He was a philosopher, an artist, a guitarist, a poet, a performer, an activist, an orator, and just about any positive thing black people could be proud about.
He achieved so much until there was really no more space left for him to achieve any more. Recognition would still come even if it was named “Lifetime Award” or whatever.
The looks, strength and agility of his body defied the fact that he was 70-years-old. He danced like he had no bones.
I Hate Telling a Lie. Indeed, he hated lies. That’s why he was never scared to ask black people and their leaders, Where Did We Go Wrong? He looked the white minority regime in the eyes and told them, Trouble in the Land of Plenty.
He agitated black people into revolutionary action so that there would no longer be Whispers in the Deep.
He was against anarchy and politically bankrupt militancy, and he, therefore, advised us to Look, Listen and Decide.
Because the white racist regime dreaded a Thinking Black Person, the song was banned.
He reminded, in a mining imagery, those that had forgotten to make their contribution that sishov’ ingolovane.
Once they had joined in the pushing of ingolovane, he pleaded with all of us, singajindi majita.
To understand what made him compose music that carried a positive political message, “Bra Ray” once said: “It’s never been my objective to make commercial music but instead transform South African music into something respectable. In the end, it’s your art that remains when everything else has gone.”
Indeed, while he may be gone, his art will remain forever. As he lay on his bed fighting lung cancer, Nana Coyote was busy chanting to him, Zwakala nganeno! Thanks “Bra” Ray. From your teachings, black people should know that “we’re all tributaries of that great river of pain”. Joburg
SALUTE: Raymond Chikapa Enock Phiri was a legendary South African guitarist and performer nicknamed “Just Now” Phiri.