broken Rhythm: Umlazi’s Stick man dies ‘Lonely’ death from TB

2012-01-26 00:00

A CHURCH drummerboy from Umlazi, who went on to become the man on sticks for the greats in SA’s music industry, died a lonely death on Monday.

Kwazi Shange (42) was living in Napierville when he fell ill. He died in the Richmond Hospital from tuberculosis. His wife Dudu Shange, also a musician, described her late husband as a humble person who never behaved like he was a celebrity.

“He believed in helping others to grow in the music business,” said Shange. She said just before he became sick he was planning to teach young people music in Pietermaritzburg, where he had bought a house in Napierville. He wanted to focus on teaching drums, which were his passion.

Shange said her husband did not have any formal education, but he was very talented. “Kwazi developed interest in drums at church while he was young and from there he never looked back,” she said.

Kwazi started playing the drum with a band called Ijika and then went on to play for Marc Alex, the twins who were popular in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

He later played for Sakhile alongside the late jazz legend Sipho Gumede. Artists he played with included jazz maestro Hugh Masekela, the late “Mama Africa” Miriam Makeba, Joyous Celebration, Caiphus Semenya, Judith Sephume, Sibongile Khumalo, the late Busi Mhlongo and many others. “Kwazi was never the same after mama Miriam Makeba died, because he went to Italy on tour with her and they enjoyed a very cordial relationship, but her death tormented him,” said Shange.

Sam Mhlongo, his childhood friend, said he taught Kwazi to play the drums. “When he learnt how to play he became a legend in his own right because he has played and recorded music with some of the greatest musicians on the planet,” he said.

A close family member said while he was ill Kwazi was neglected by artists who had worked with him for years, and that he had been very lonely.

His memorial service will be held at the Napierville Dutch Reformed Church on Friday and his funeral will be held in the same venue on Saturday.

Shange is survived by his wife and three children, Mpume, Mlungisi and Tyson (Ngcebo).

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