Veteran Afro-jazz musician Stompie Mavi, who popularised the Xhosa traditional song Unomnganga by giving it a new interpretation and a modern vibe, has died.
The maestro, who was confined to a wheelchair for several years, died yesterday in Queenstown, his home town, after a long illness. He was 57.
Activist and musician Mzwakhe Mbuli described Mavi's death as "devastating news".
"The death of Stompie Mavi has devastated the entire music industry. It's a bad way to start a new year. None can replace him, and this void shall never be filled. The timing is very bad indeed," Mbuli said.
Mikia Makam, the owner of popular restaurant Shivava, where Mavi's Unomnganga song sends both young and old on to the dance floor on weekends to this day, has described Mavi's death as a loss to the entertainment industry.
"Is it really true that the lion has fallen? He was an icon of the entertainment industry. His songs, particularly Unomnganga, were appreciated by his fans at Shivava. His fans will miss him. We at Shivava send our condolences to his family," Makam said.
The Afro-jazz maestro, who loomed large on the South African music scene, is respected for releasing some of the most enduring music in the country.
The short-tempered musician suffered a setback in 1987 when he was left wheelchair-bound after being stabbed in a robbery.
He then struggled to find gigs as a result of being disabled.
Some of the songs that his fans will remember include Umendo, Ngenxa Yakho, Nozamile, Oneness, Bayombela, Tyamzashe and Thou Shall Not Kill.
The Queens-town-born musician started singing at the age of eight and went on to study classical music.