Legendary Sobantu guitarist honoured

2016-01-27 06:00
PHOTO: nokulunga ngobese Internationally acclaimed guitar maestro, Themba Mokoena from Sobantu, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award recently.

PHOTO: nokulunga ngobese Internationally acclaimed guitar maestro, Themba Mokoena from Sobantu, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award recently.

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STARTING to play the guitar at the age of six, South Africa’s legendary lead guitarist, Themba Mokoena, was recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural­ “Backing Vocal and Session Music Awards”. The awards were an initiative of the Princess of Africa Foundation in partnership with Chaka Chaka Promotions, to honour unsung heroes of the music industry.

NOKULUNGA NGOBESE spoke to the well- travelled guitar wizard from Sobantu, who has become a household name in the music industry.

Taught by his late brother Jotang “Joko Tea”, Mokoena has been playing the guitar for more than 40 years, backing artists such as Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo, Mpharanyana, Simphiwe Dana, Gibson Kente and others. He also mentored Ray Phiri and Jimmy Dludlu.

While he continues to play at 64, Mokoena­ believes “its time to pass on the baton”, and his greatest wish is to pass on his legacy to the younger generation by establishing a school of music.

His greatest concern, however, is that South African artists remain neglected by the Department of Arts and Culture, as there are projects they cannot start without support from the government.

“I have travelled around the world. I have made my mark and I believe now it is time to go back home to pass on the knowledge I acquired over the years, to the younger generation.

“I would know I have done my job if there could be a school where I could nurture young talent, but without funding it remains a dream.

“Even if it means conducting workshops in schools and tertiary institutions, I would be happy­.”

He said getting his first award after being in the industry for many years was a new lease on life because he did not expect it.

“I am humbled and honoured especially because after so many years in the industry, there are people who have finally recognised my work.

“So many of my friends in the industry have passed on without being recognised.”

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