July 12 2017 – CONDOLENCES continue to pour in for legendary SA musician Ray Phiri , who died at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer, in a Mbombela hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
By mid-morning, Wednesday, tributes had began to pour in for the much loved musician of Stimela fame who had been admitted at a hospital in Mbombela, Mpumalanga.
National spokesperson for the ruling ANC, Zizi Kodwa, said it was with profound sadness that ANC “learnt of the passing of music luminary and trailblazer Ray Chikapa Phiri.
“The ANC sends its heartfelt condolences to the Phiri family and the music industry on the loss of so colossal an icon in the industry and our country at large.”
Kodwa said Phiri was a voice for the voiceless and a legend “of our time”.
“An immensely gifted composer, vocalist and guitarist, he breathed consciousness and agitated thoughts of freedom through his music.
“Through Whispers in the Deep, among his many works, Phiri, his band Stimela and his friends, Nana Coyote, among others, taught us to forever remain inspired and never understand hate. They spoke of knowledge and pain, necessary preconditions to develop a single nation of love, formed from us – the tributaries to the great river of of pain.”
Kodwa added that Phiri was also a global ambassador of the hopes of a new South Africa and a committed activist to the nation’s vision of fundamental change. For his efforts he was awarded the Presidential Order of Ikhamanga by President Jacob Zuma for his “successful use of the arts as an instrument of social transformation”.
“While Ray Phiri may be gone, his music lives on. He has played his role in unearthing and support new talent in the industry and has been an ardent and vocal advocate of the call for greater investment in local content development and the development of the industry as a whole.”
Kodwa said the indelible contribution Phiri had made to the tapestry that was South African arts and culture would never be forgotten. “May his life’s work forever remain an inspiration to generations of artists who would emulate his example of using the arts to effect change and inspire hope amongst his people.”
President of the National Freedom Party (NFP), Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi, described the passing of Phiri as a huge loss.
“It is indeed a sad day in our country and the continent because Mr Phiri was one of the greatest sons of the soil whose contribution to the struggle of the black person in South Africa can easily be traced through his music,” said the NFP leader.
She said Phiri was a rare breed of musician, who was fearless and took pertinent issues affecting the lives of ordinary people, particularly black Africans, to the international stage, letting the universal community into the struggles of those that were regarded inferior.
“He knew that music cut across every boundary and used it to express the views of the general society back then,” she lamented.
“We are really saddened by his passing because it leaves a huge void as we are slowly loosing (sic) brave artists who can tackle issues on behalf of the majority of our people through music.
“On behalf of my party, the NFP, I wish to express my sincere condolences to his family, band members of Istimela group and the entire music fraternity. May they find solace in the fact that Ray Phiri fought a good fight and ran his race to the fullest,” said KaMagwaza-Msibi.
Described as an African jazz, fusion and mbaqanga musician, Phiri was born in Mpumalanga. Chikapa, as he was fondly known, founded Stimela, with whom he conceived gold and platinum-winning albums like Fire, Passion and Ecstacy (1991), Look, Listen and Decide (1992), as well as the controversial People Don’t Talk So Lets Talk.
Internationally perhaps, his greatest work was on the Graceland project with US great Paul Simon. – ANA