Memorial lecture in honour of Black Mambazo's founder Joseph Shabalala

Fort Hare hints at archive for legendary group

A memorial lecture honouring the late Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala will be held in Eastern Cape this weekend.
A memorial lecture honouring the late Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala will be held in Eastern Cape this weekend.
Image: Gallo Images/Foto24/Ian Carbutt

The University of Fort Hare will host a memorial lecture in honour of late scathamiya music icon Joseph Shabalala at the East London campus on Saturday.

The memorial lecture will be delivered by cultural practitioner Dr Sipho Sithole and will be staged in conjunction with the Ladysmith Black Mambazo Mobile Academy.

Shabalala, who won five Grammy Awards with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, died last year at the age of 79.

The legend was recently honoured by President Cyril Ramaphosa with an order of Ikhamanga in Gold for excelling in the fields of arts, culture and music.

On November 27, the KwaZulu-Natal government executive council paid tribute to him by unveiling a monument at the Ladysmith Cemetery.

Speaking to Sowetan on Monday, Sithole said it was an honour and privilege for him to present the inaugural memorial lecture.

“It is a tough call for me to reflect on the contribution made by a person of Bab'u Shabalala’s stature. This is a reluctant migrant worker who during difficult times defied all apartheid laws at the time and started something that later employed others. He beat the system to become what he became.”

The group’s manager and academy director Xolani Majozi said: “University of Fort Hare has produced many great academics and political leaders who have changed the landscape of our sociopolitical history to what is today.

“Just like the legendary group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which over the years has flown the country’s flag to nations of the world, the university epitomises how great our country is to the nations of the world.”

Vice-chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu said the university was honoured to host the inaugural memorial lecture of one of the greatest and most exceptional SA musicians.

“Ladysmith Black Mambazo has inspired generations of music lovers at home and abroad. Their music has put SA on the world map. We are particularly proud to have been identified by the band to host this lecture. I am delighted to also announce that we are in discussions with Ladysmith Black Mambazo about the archive of the band since its formation 61 years ago.

“We are hoping to make an announcement on the day of the lecture. All these interactions constitute a vote of confidence in our department led by award-winning jazz maestro Nduduzo Makhathini and staffed by a phenomenal team of lecturers.”

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