Zwelakhe Sisulu’s parting gift

2012-11-24 17:46

Businessman Zwelakhe Sisulu’s last project before he died was financing a recording of struggle songs dedicated to his late parents, ANC stalwarts Walter and Albertina Sisulu.

The Soweto Memorial Choir, created specifically for the project, is a combination of the two-time Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir and the legendary Imilonji KaNtu, led by its celebrated music director Gobingca Mxadana.

“This was the last thing Zwelakhe worked on,” said Mxadana, who was key in the formation of Imilonji KaNtu in 1983.

The 24-track recording was due to be launched in the week after Sisulu’s funeral, which took place on October 13.

Sisulu was the record’s executive producer and financed it, Mxadana said.

On the CD sleeve, Sisulu dedicates the record to his parents, all struggle heroes and South African youth.

“We finished it six weeks before he died,” Mxadana told City Press.

The businessman and former journalist, who died in his sleep in Johannesburg last month, commissioned the CD to celebrate the ANC’s centenary.

Mxadana said he was the first person that Sisulu approached to work on the recordings.

He said he chose the Soweto Gospel Choir because of its local and international standing.

Mxadana said he did most of the arrangement and research into the songs and co-produced it with DStv’s One Gospel executive chairperson Reverend Abe Sibiya.

The sister of Sisulu’s widow, Zodwa, is a member of Imilonji KaNtu.

After Sisulu’s death, Mxadana thought of launching the CD at the funeral as a tribute to Sisulu but said he settled instead for singing a few of the songs.

Imilonji KaNtu sang at Walter and Albertina Sisulu’s funerals as well as former President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994.

The album includes songs like the original version of Enoch Sontonga’s hymn Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika and “Nantsi Indoda emnyama Verwoerd (Here comes a black man, Verwoerd)”, which trade unionist Vuyisile Mini sang on his walk to the gallows after being sentenced to death for sabotage and the murder of a police informant in 1964.

President Jacob Zuma’s favourite struggle song, Mshini Wami, is also featured.

Mxadana (64) was awarded an Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) in 2008 by then president Kgalema Motlanthe. He said the CD would be launched after consultations with the Sisulu family.

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