Phiri’s chil­dren re­call tough love

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TANKISO MAKHETHA tankiso.makhetha@inl.co.za

AN emo­tional but cel­e­bra­tory mood en­gulfed the Mbombela Sta­dium yes­ter­day as friends, fam­ily and in­dus­try col­leagues came to­gether to bid farewell to their brother, teacher, friend and col­league, the man they sim­ply called Bra Ray.

Thou­sands at­tended the memo­rial ser­vice of the leg­endary mu­si­cian Ray Phiri who died a week ago aged 70, in his home­town of Nel­spruit, fol­low­ing a long bat­tle with lung cancer.

His chil­dren, Pholo and Len­tle Phiri, paid him a touch­ing trib­ute, de­scrib­ing him as a lov­ing fa­ther who was also a dis­ci­plinar­ian.

“Our fa­ther would al­ways say to us ‘shut up and lis­ten’, mean­ing we should speak when spo­ken to,” Len­tle told mourn­ers who were gath­ered in a mar­quee at the sta­dium.

“He never stopped lov­ing and car­ing for us. The one thing he loved in the world was his chil­dren. He left us with a legacy,” said an emo­tional Len­tle.

She said de­spite hav­ing dif­fer­ences with her fa­ther, she had al­ways known he cared about her.

“He raised me to be a better per­son. We thank him for rais­ing us to be better,” Len­tle said.

Phiri’s son, Pholo, who took to the podium just be­fore Len­tle, said he was in­volved in a few arguments with his fa­ther when he was younger.

“When you’re young, you think you know it all and dur­ing that time we fought a lot. He would say to me that I should slow down, but we ar­gued and I grew up and un­der­stood that he only wanted the best for me,” Pholo said.

He ac­knowl­edged that Phiri’s chil­dren had mas­sive shoes to fill, but said they would try their best.

“I think he would have liked me to close the gap, but his shoes are too big for me to fill, but I will try for the sake of the fam­ily.”

Those in at­ten­dance heard that Phiri wanted to study to­wards con­quer­ing the world with his mu­sic.

From a young age, Phiri had an affin­ity for mu­sic and was taught how to play the gui­tar by his fa­ther.

Some of the people who gath­ered to re­mem­ber the leg­end were ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu and for­mer Mpumalanga pre­mier Mathews Phosa. Phosa’s wife and ANC MP Pinky, mem­bers of the band Stimela, and MECs from the Mpumalanga pro­vin­cial govern­ment were also in at­ten­dance.

PIC­TURES: ITUMELENG ENGLISH

EMO­TIONAL: Len­tle Phiri is com­forted by her brother Pholo Phiri as they paid trib­ute to their late fa­ther, Ray, dur­ing a memo­rial ser­vice at Mbombela Sta­dium, Nel­spruit in Mpumalanga yes­ter­day.

LEGACY: Mem­bers of the mu­si­cal group Stimela per­form dur­ing the memo­rial ser­vice.

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