RAY PHIRI’S MOM, 113, TOLD OF HIS DEATH
Nobody was willing to break the news to her
THE family of legendary Ray Chikapa Phiri feared telling his mother, 113-year-old Gogo Thabethe, about the death of her son.
The jazz legend died on Wednesday morning from lung cancer.
But Gogo Thabethe heard only yesterday, when the family finally gathered the strength to break the news to her.
Family spokesperson Paul Nkanyane said: “There is nothing dramatic about how the family are feeling now, it’s even scary because they are acting a little bit as if it’s normal and nothing has happened.
“I think it hasn’t yet dawned on them what has happened,” said Nkanyane.
“… uGogo besisaba ukhumtshela. (We were afraid to tell Gogo (his mother).
“No one was willing to volunteer to tell her. All along we were expecting something to happen to her and not to Ray, because she is not well and of course her advanced age,” he added.
But eventually yesterday morning, the family met with the Mpumalanga government, who persuaded them to tell Gogo Thabethe, as they feared the news could reach her one way or another.
“There was a delegation of professionals from the social department and the family to go and break the news to her,” said Nkanyane.
Phiri was one of 12 brothers and sisters, most of whom have passed away.
There are four siblings left, according to the family spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the family and the Mpumalanga government have announced details of the jazz icon’s memorial and funeral arrangements.
The premier’s spokesperson, Zibonele Mncwango, told The Star that delegates led by Acting Premier Refilwe Mtshweni had visited the Phiri family yesterday.
According to Mncwango, an official funeral, bestowed on outstanding and distinguished people, will be held.
The official funeral is specifically designated by the president on request by the premier of a province, he explained.
“After consultation with the family, the government plans to cover all funeral arrangements,” Mncwango said.
“The funeral will be held at the 45 000-seater Mbombela Stadium,” he added.
“We are expecting a large number of people to come and bid farewell to him.
“We would like to believe that people will come from all over Mpumalanga and across the country,” said Mncwango.
The memorial service will be held on Thursday at the stadium, with the official provincial funeral at the same venue next Saturday.
BONDING: Mother of the late Ray Phiri, right, Gogo Thabethe, and her son in their hometown, Mpumalanga, six years ago.
CROONER: Ray Phiri doing what he loved best.
ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER: Ray Phiri was the founding member of The Cannibals in the 1970s and then Stimela. Gold and platinum albums followed.
LOVED BY THE NATION: The jazz legend died on Wednesday morning of lung cancer.