Phiri’s children recall tough love
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.
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.