PHOTOS | Remembering iconic jazz artist Jonas Gwangwa

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Jonas Gwangwa
Jonas Gwangwa
Photo: The Times/Moeletsi Mabe/Gallo Images
  • Jazz legend Jonas Gwangwa died at the age of 83.
  • The icon spent over 40 years in the music industry, using his craft to aid in the struggle for freedom.
  • He would spend years travelling the world as an exile, collecting a number of accolades along the way, and eventually returning to South Africa in 1991.

In 2010, Jonas Gwangwa was bestowed with the Order of Ikhamanga in Gold by the presidency -- an honour awarded to South Africans who excel in the field of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism or sport. 

Jonas received the prestigious award for "his exceptional contribution to music and the struggle for freedom in South Africa," the profile on the official website of the presidency of SA explains. 

"So intense and rousing were Jonas Gwangwa's instrumental tunes, that the apartheid censorship machinery banned his records without bothering to check the lyrical content. The album was mostly instrumental but the revolutionary verve could not be mistaken: here was music inspired and fed by a people's thirst for liberation."

Born in Orlando East, Soweto, Jonas started off playing the trombone and eventually joined the band the Jazz Epistles

He would ultimately leave South Africa, spending years in exile, but still using his craft to fight against Apartheid. 

"For over 30 years, he was to travel the world as an exile, collecting accolades wherever he went," the profile goes on to say.

Along with George Fenton, he created the original score and theme for the iconic 1987 film Cry Freedom, which received multiple award nominations and took home trophies as well.

Jonas returned to South Africa in 1991, where he continued "enhancing and promoting local culture."

On Saturday, news of the music legend's death surfaced, with President Cyril Ramaphosa remembering the star as a "giant of our revolutionary cultural movement and our democratic creative industries."

See photos below:

Jonas Gwangwa
Musician Jonas Gwangwa perfoming during the memorial service for Keorapetse “Bra Willie” Kgotsisile.
Jonas Gwangwa
Jonas Gwangwa, Peter Makubane and Johnny Mekoa at the launch of the Living Legends Legacy Project.
Jonas Gwangwa
Jonas Gwangwa performs at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz 2014.
Jonas Gwangwa
Jonas Gwangwa performs on stage during the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz 2007.
Jonas Gwangwa
South African Jazz legends, Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela were honoured with awards during the 2008 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

Compiled by Nikita Coetzee (Source:

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