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Tap dancer 'Mad Joe' a legend in his time

By unknown | Oct 24, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Jo Mdhlela

Jo Mdhlela

The world did not know him by his baptismal name of Jacob Sennakgomo. He was simply "Mad Joe".

The famous and talented dancer eked out an existence in tap dancing, raking in a reasonable income to meet his daily needs and those of his family.

He died last Saturday after a hectic 73 years that saw him adored as a top Johannesburg street jester and master tap dancer.

Paying tribute to her husband this week, his wife Rose said Sennakgomo had resigned himself to his fate. During his last days he had shown signs of being at peace with God his Redeemer and it did not seem to bother him that his life was ebbing away.

"Mad Joe died with a smile on his face," Rose said.

"Despite the worn-out and tired old bones, and the hammering he received from illness, my husband longed for the eternal rest found in death.

"The resilience to ward off the debilitating illness had been dissipated. He was ready to enter a new phase of life found in the peacefulness of death."

Sennakgomo was an entertainer and accomplished tap dancer who spent many years, spanning the 1960s to early 1990s, amusing city folks with his blend of American ditties.

A raconteur par excellence, Sennakgomo kept his audiences in stitches, entertaining people to the best of his ability.

To some he was the South African version of the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin, known for playing his musical pipe to lure rats to their death in the Weser River in Germany.

Sennakgomo lured Johannesburg city folks with his tap dancing and humorous antics to form small crowds wherever he stopped to perform.

Born in September 1935 in Dihekeng, a small village in Thaba Nchu, he and his parents moved to the old Alberton township of Magogogweni, where he immersed himself in the world of showbiz.

A staunch Anglican, he is survived by his wife Rose and five children.

Sennakgomo will be buried at Kromvlei Cemetery in Swartkoppies, Alberton, tomorrow at 11am after a requiem mass at the Parish Church of St Philips in Thokoza.


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