Memorial of a jazz icon

2009-10-21 16:05

THE life of a jazz legend Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi was celebrated

as old timers and youngsters came in numbers to bid their farewells to a “shy”

and “mellow” jazz icon at The Bassline in Newton, Joburg, today.

The colour and joy Mankunku’s music brought into people’s lives was

brought to life through stunning stage performances by his fellow jazz


Audiences softly tapped their feet and swayed in tune to the

melodies in celebration of the life of a fallen jazz icon.

Performances from the African Jazz Pioneers gave audiences a taste

of the legacy Mankunku left behind before actor Joe Mafela read the


“Inkunzi iwile, poho e wele (a great man has fallen). Mankunku was

a teacher, composer, leader and left us with a void. But he has also left us

with a legacy of music,” said actor Mesh Mapetla.

Trumpeter Johnny Makoe and the Music Academy of Gauteng students

performed a song composed by Duke Ellington entitled In a Mellow Tone.

“There was such a calmness around this brother. Winston’s left us

with a legacy. This legacy has got to carry on. His music will not die. It will

go to the jazz archives,” said Makoe.

“uMankunku was a lovable and respected person. He was softly spoken

and shy but put him on stage and you could see the lion in him,” said singer

Abigail Khubeka.

Those present included the likes of saxophonist Sipho “Hotstix”

Mabuse, songstress Thandi Klaasen, pianist Hotep Idris Galeta and a host of


Musicians made a plea for government to build a hall of fame for

South African jazz musicians and for a jazz radio station and jazz concert halls

to be built in Durban, Johannesbug and Cape Town.

The memorial ended with the audience dancing to the music,

remembering the great times Mankunku’s music had brought to their lives.

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