Towering icon of choral music

Vusi Mazibuko

Vusi Mazibuko

Firstly, I wish to commend one of the festival leaders, Thulasizwe Nkabinde for arranging the event to honour my father, the late and great Jabulani Mazibuko.

My father was a born teacher. He was an extrovert and a gentleman. He had a great interest in African, especially Zulu, culture.

My father loved biltong, which is known in isiZulu as umqwayiba, and, as you know, biltong in isiZulu culture is the food of the casanovas, amasoka. He was a typical Zulu casanova or isoka.

And my mother, being an umZulu woman who does not necessarily subscribe to the gender equality and equity fever of our contemporary era, accepted my father's status as isoka because she is a traditionalist. I love her dearly for that.

My father was a pioneer who established the great Soweto Teachers' Choir which won a luxury bus in one of several prestigious choral music competitions. He was an assertive, innovative and critical thinker. His musical prowess enabled him to achieve ground-breaking feats in choral music.

He had a towering presence in the choral music fraternity and it came as no surprise when he became the first black man to conduct Handel's Messiah in 1957.

Another milestone was in the 1980s when the choir took part in the world choral music showcase at Llangollen, Wales, where he obtained third position overall.

My father, Dr Jabulani Mazibuko, was almost peerless and any description of his prowess would exhaust all the superlatives. Thanks to the sponsors, the choral music fraternity, choral music lovers and the rest of South Africa for honouring my father, whom I know is conducting a big choir of angels in heaven.

l The author is the only son of composer, arranger and conductor Dr Jabulani Mazibuko, who was honoured during the SABC, Transnet Foundation and Sowetan-organised and sponsored annual Massed Choir Festival at the weekend. Like his father, Vusi Mazibuko is himself a school- teacher and a choral music conductor.