Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
Bulawayo Imbube group, Indosakusa: The Morning Star, who attended the funeral of Lady Smith Black Mambazo founder, Dr Joseph Mshengu Shabalala, in Ladysmith South Africa, last weekend said the ceremony was confirmation that he was indeed an icon, not only to Africa, but the world.
Shabalala (78), globally known for his leadership of the choral group, died on February 11 in Pretoria after a long illness.
Leader of Indosakusa: The Morning Star, Oscar Siziba said Shabalala was given a befitting hero’s send off.
“We realised that Shabalala was a hero and great icon, not only in South Africa or Africa, but worldwide as there were so many people and artistes from all walks of life at his funeral. We’re happy that he was buried with the utmost respect,” said Siziba.
Although they could not sing one last song for Shabalala as their request to perform at the funeral was turned down, Siziba said they were privileged to be part of the proceedings to bid farewell to Mshengu.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to sing because the burial was handled by the state. But this wasn’t the reason that we wanted to attend the funeral.
“We had gone to pay our respects to Mshengu’s family and the Black Mambazo crew,” said Siziba.
He said Indosakusa: The Morning Star was going to miss Shabalala as he had a hand in shaping their careers.
“We interacted a lot with him from 2006 and even visited him. He was close to us to the extent that he featured on one of our songs Wob’yoyo ubuye from the Amaqinga Aphelile album released in 2013,” he said.
At the funeral, Siziba said they met groups such as Thokozani Langa, iHashi Elimhlophe, Colenso Abafana Benkokhelo, King Star Brothers and Zulu Managers.
Shabalala retired from his music group in 2014 due to deteriorating health but he remained influential in the group’s international and local success.
He was globally known for his leadership of the choral group that collaborated with Paul Simon on the “Graceland” album in 1986. The record went on to sell more than 16 million copies worldwide.
The group won five Grammys in 1987 for Best Traditional Folk Recording, 2004 and 2009 for Best Traditional World Music Album, 2013 and 2018 for Best World Music Album.