Obituary: Rasta musician Roots

2011-07-15 00:00

A LIVE jam session is being planned as a send-off for a well-known Pietermaritzburg street musician, popularly known as “Roots”, who died after a long illness.

The sight of the dreadlocked, guitar-carrying Rastafarian was familiar to many Maritzburgers, who heard Roots’s reggae sound as he performed around the city over the years.

In recent years he often performed at the Red Door night club with his family band Undivided Roots.

Red Door manager Marek Leander-von Poncet, alias Tosh, said Roots suffered from a lung condition. He described him as a great musician and an “awesome” family man.

“Roots held to strong Rastafarian ethics and morals. But he was also controversial.”

He was arrested several times and suffered public beatings for his brazen smoking of dagga. The Witness understand that Roots and his family once stripped naked in court to protest their arrest for marijuana smoking.

“But he was also a good teacher to his children, who are amazing kids,” said Leander-von Poncet. He taught them music and about life. He instilled good morals. Every time they performed at Red Door, it was full house.”

A feature on Roots written by Leander-von Poncet in The Witness early this year described how the self-taught musician started using sticks and rocks to make music at the age of three, graduating to guitars made from oil cans.

Roots leaves a widow, Mystic (Lindiwe) Nene-Cele and nine children whose ages range from 27 to six. His firstborn, Wadada (27), sometimes performs outside Parklane Spar. All his other siblings are also musical and have colourful names that reflect the family’s beliefs: Greenfield (25), Soweto (22), Revival (20), Heaven (17), Spear (15), Rainbow (12), Judgment (9) and Kingdom (6).

Speaking on behalf of the family, Revival said they are saddened by their father’s loss but remain united.

“I was the last person to spend time with him. He asked us not to cry for him. His wish was for us to perform at his funeral,” she said.

The funeral service will take place at the family’s homestead in Esigodini at 10.30 am today. Leander-von Poncet, who is arranging for other musicians to join the jam session, said a convoy will leave Red Door at 10 am for those who wish to attend.

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