A tribute to Cyril, a hero and adonis of sorts

2017-08-10 06:03

Cyril Thulani Ngcukana is no more.

When I heard of his demise, I found solace in a song by Teddy Pendergrass: So Sad The Song That Says Goodbye.

I could not contain my emotions and felt tear streaming down my face at this announcement.

My memories raced back to the times we spent together, as we were both born and bred at Langa and lived next door to each other.

Cyril came from a family of musicians and at an early age also displayed a talent for music. His was not an exception. Columbus. Ezra. Duke and others.

His instruments of choice growing up were the guitar and the melodica out of which he played various songs.

Handsome dude

Besides being a musical prodigy, Cyril looked good and handsome dude, with an eye for style and elegance.

He could easily have become a professionally model.

Somewhat a dandy, he knew how to dress for an occasion.

At school in Zimasa Higher Primary School, he always won the Mr Beauty and Mr Personality pageants.

Whenever he strutted the catwalk, the crowds went into a frenzy, what with showcasing his superb talents as a dancer and a natty dresser.

Most whistled his name while the lasses purred and blew their kisses at him, squealing in a lascivious manner of sorts.

As is always the case, there were always contenders to Cyril’s throne, but they came out the worse for wear.

Once, a fellow competitor took to the stage and instead made himself a stooge by emulating Cyril; he shouldn’t have, for the house came down with such uproarious laughter. The cat was out of the bag for him, being no match for our Cyril.

Not deterred, said chap continued in so-called Cyril’s style and manner till the end.

Needless to say, he ended being a runner up to Cyril’s title.

Besides his dancing style, Cyril was equally gifted as an acrobat, fitting because of his lithe body. He turned his body to an instrument of pliability and great reflex.

A little known fact is that Cyril was arrested during the riots of 1976, and even spent a year in detention without trial.

Sadly, after his release he showed less interest in going back to school, and instead a career in music.

He played the piano as his instrument of choice.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Cyril played with a number of bands around Cape Town.

He had amassed so much experience that he and Ringo Madlingozi founded the band Peto, which became famous for their one hit, African Salad(umphokoqo).

Although the group split up, Cyril continued to nurture his craft further.

Musicians face various challenges in South Africa, including financially stress.

Because of this, Cyril studied and passed an electronics technician’s course.

That ensured that he was able to supplement his income as a musician, installing and repairing household appliances.

He was married to Thakane, who bore him three lovely kids. However the union broke down and the pair divorced.

This setback in his life came at great cost to him.

Despite these setbacks in his life, most admirable about him was that he never complained about those, but maintained a very happy and outgoing personality.

I last saw him at the funeral of a nephew and he was in his usual high self, and dressed to the nines.

As a parting short to my brother and a gifted musician, may the gods of heaven welcome you to the other dearly departed musos and gleefully offer you the soothing waters of Southern Comfort, to your throats desire.

Lyrically may the serenade and comfort and ease you to the space you’ve just occupied, playing Sample’s Cantaloupe Island.


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