One of South Africa’s most celebrated musicians and vocal critic of the apartheid government, Johnny Clegg, has died at the age of 66, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Clegg, best known as the “white Zulu”, was a British-born musician, who uniquely blended western and Zulu music. His best-known hit Asimbonanga, meaning “we have not seen him” which was released in 1987 was dedicated to Nelson Mandela.
At the time of its release, Mandela who later became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 was still in jail and considered a threat to the apartheid state.
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His death was released by his long-time music manager, Ronny Quinn.
Tributes have been pouring in for Clegg, including from the South African government. The government said:
“He showed us what it was to assimilate to and embrace other cultures without losing your identity.”
Clegg broke the law to play with black musicians back in the era of racial apartheid when such mingling was banned, says the BBC’s Andrew Harding in Johannesburg.
He and his hybrid music were a powerful rebuke to the white-minority government, and a reminder that apartheid was a political choice that could be swept away, our correspondent adds.
His music was banned from the airwaves and his public performances were limited until apartheid ended in 1994. Speaking to the AFP news agency in 2017, Clegg said:
We had to find our way around a myriad of laws that prevented us from mixing across racial lines.
May His Soul Rest In Eternal Peace
More: BBC News