Friends meet to honour a legend

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

The gathering at the Soulsa Restaurant in Melville was solemn.

They were meeting to exchange notes about life and reminisce about the good old days.

Close friends had come to celebrate a departed friend's life and legacy.

They had come to remember Gito Baloi, the musician who was killed in 2004 in central Joburg under circumstances that shocked his adopted country, the people of which had come to love, admire and treat him as one of their own.

Baloi, originally from Mozambique, was a musician whose musical philosophy was far ahead of his time.

His pals, who included arts and culture journalists, musicians, fans and colleagues from Tananas, the band he fronted, spoke about a humble man with a huge talent.

Tananas was one of the few bands that long before 1994 had seen the wisdom of embracing all cultures. The music they produced had strands that connected with all cultures and was essentially continental in character and spirit.

The band was made up of members who were coloured, black, white and intercontinental. Tananas reflected the kind of music that embraces everyone.

Baloi was the front man of the Yeoville-based band that in many ways defined and epitomised the new South Africa at a time when many of us were still hesitant to embrace.

Tananas was in many ways synonymous with unity across cultures, ideologies and colour that defined their home ground then - Yeoville of the early and mid-1990s.

They provided what we all hungered for but did not as yet have the courage to embrace.

This gathering, though, was about the launch of a posthumous album of Baloi's work, aptly titled Gito Baloi Beyond.

The well-crafted piece of art was truly appreciated by the friends who gathered to remember the work of one of their own. And there was none of the anger often associated with such a big loss.

When friends, Pedro da Silva, Paul Hanmer and Dave Reynolds among them, took to the stage at the launch of the posthumous album they were applauded generously by Baloi's other friends.

This well-done album, which is sure to endear itself to Baloi fans and certainly Tanana' fans, is a collection of 10 carefully chosen unreleased songs.

Using Baloi's bass and vocals as structure, the music was reworked in a studio by musicians who had worked closely with him on various projects.

These are Steve Newman, Hanmer, Ian Herman, Reynolds, McCoy Mrubata, Moses Khumalo (late), Da Silva, Tlale Makhene, Tony Cox, Frank Paco, Nibs van der Spuy, Deepak Ram, Rui Soeiro, Bernice Boikanyo, Paul Chibanga, Thuli Mdlalose, Elliot Short, Vusi Maseko and Graeme Sacks. The result is a beautiful piece of art.

Gito Baloi Beyond will be available from September 1. Proceeds go to the Gito Baloi Memorial Trust that looks after his family.

By buying this CD you will not only get a collection of good music but will also being doing somebody else a good turn.