Mseleku doted on hometown of Lamontville

Gugu Sibiya

Gugu Sibiya

Bheki Mseleku, 53, who died last week in London, will be buried next Saturday.

This will be preceded by a memorial service next Friday at the Durban City Hall from 4pm.

The brilliant pianist, who could dazzle any jazz-knowledgeable audience, is said to have died from sugar diabetes.

Taking a stroll down memory lane, his brother Langa says that he has lost a dear friend.

"It does not matter where Bheki would be in the world or what time it would be, he would always call me.

"I would be the one drawing his attention to the fact that it was late in the evening or the early hours of the morning. It's not as if we had a lot of things to discuss. We mostly talked about music," recalls Langa.

He said Mseleku was a talented musician, who had recognised his gift very early. "Bheki went to school in our hometown of Lamontville. But because music flowed in his veins, he decided to do what most young men did, he packed his bags for Johannesburg.

"It was soon clear that he was on to a good thing when outfits such as the Jazz Ministers and Drive snapped him up. They were recognising what Lamontville Expressions had long discovered before his departure for the city of gold."

Far from the madding crowds, Mseleku was a home boy at heart. "Aside from his impressive music talent, the next best thing Bheki lived for was home. In between performances or whenever he could take time out, Bheki would come home. He spent as much time as he could in Lamontville," says Langa.

"What I will miss mostly about him is his kindness, closeness to the family and the love he had for people. He was forever chatting to everyone. I think what amazed me more was his spirituality. He meditated a lot."

After his stint with several Johannesburg bands, Mseleku left South Africa in 1976. "He first moved to Stockholm in Sweden, before leaving for Ronnie Scott's in London."

After Nelson Mandela's release, he dropped an album called Celebration, says Langa nostalgically. By then he had offerings like Timelessness and Meditation under his belt.

He was later to drop Home At Last when he returned home.

"Unfortunately, after his return to London, Bheki was on and off. He was suffering from diabetes, which finally claimed his life."

Mseleku is survived by a brother, a sister and seven children. The requiem mass starts at 10am at the Emobeni Heights Civic Association Hall.