Kwela Tebza family feud

2009-11-14 15:30

THE award-winning Kwela Tebza brothers have been accused of ­stealing a specially crafted pennywhistle from their cousin in Soweto.

Sibusiso Lerole (23), son of late pennywhistle player and singer ­Aaron “Big Voice” Jack Lerole , says he has been looking for the musical instrument since 2003.

The instrument was a gift to his father from the US-based Dave Matthews Band after Big Voice Jack collaborated with the band on the song One Sweet World in 1998 which they performed together at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey and at the Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts.

Some of Big Voice Jack’s hits from the 60s and 70s include Cherry Beat, Big Voice Jack No 1 and Jacking Jack. He died of throat cancer in 2003.

Kwela Tebza – made up of brothers Mpho, Tebogo and Tshepo Lerole – are the sons of Jack’s brother, Elias “Shamba” Lerole, who played with Jack in the 50s.

Sibusiso says: “The two brothers, including my father, were the custodians of pennywhistle or kwela music. I have been troubled by its disappearance and have been worrying what my father could be thinking wherever he is that one of his pennywhistles has just gone.

“I wasn’t expecting such a thing from my cousins. That pennywhistle was stolen because no one came to me and asked for it. I’ve been reluctant to go to the police because at the end of the day we are family. I would like to see this end in a decent way.”

But Mpho denies ever stealing the pennywhistle in question. “Ask him where my family was when his father passed away. If we were not there, how could we have taken things. There have been problems ever since Big Voice Jack passed away,” says Mpho.

“We have been using these flutes even when Big Voice Jack was still around. Some of them are from our father’s collection, but the one that Sibusiso refers to in the picture was custom made for us by a guy in Maritzburg. It’s an F-flute, not the G that he is talking about.”

He adds: “Sibusiso wants to mislead people. Is this his way of trying to get fame? Why hasn’t he come to us to talk about this? Why go to the newspapers? You know you have to ignore such claims because they are baseless.”

But Sibusiso maintains that the pennywhistle is his and that he will do whatever needs to be done to get it back. “It’s my duty to carry on where my old man left off. Music is in my heart, my life is music, good music not mickey mouse stuff or one-hit wonders. Like my father used to say, I will also keep playing until I am 100- years-old or for as long as God spares me.”

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