Jonas Gwangwa: A giant has been called to rest

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Jonas Gwangwa died yesterday. Picture: Johnny Onverwacht
Jonas Gwangwa died yesterday. Picture: Johnny Onverwacht


The family of trumpeter Jonas Gwangwa has been dealt a double blow as the legend died two weeks after the passing of his wife. Gwangwa was 83.

Speaking to City Press shortly after the news of his father’s passing yesterday, Gwangwa’s son Mojalefa said the family was too distraught to comment.

“I am not able to talk now. We have just gathered as a family and we will only be able to talk a bit later.

“Papa died today [Saturday] in hospital from cardiac complications,” he said.

The trombone that boomed with boldness and bravery, and equally warmed our hearts with mellow melody, has lost its life force.
President Cyril Ramaphosa

Gwangwa’s wife, Violet, died a fortnight ago.

“My mother passed away two weeks ago. She also suffered heart complications,” Mojalefa added.

President Cyril Ramaphosa led the tributes to the musician yesterday.

He announced Gwangwa’s passing through his official Twitter account.

“A giant of our revolutionary cultural movement and our democratic creative industries has been called to rest.

“The trombone that boomed with boldness and bravery, and equally warmed our hearts with mellow melody, has lost its life force,” Ramaphosa said.

Read: Jonas Gwangwa embodied South Africa’s struggle for a national culture

For more than 40 years, the renowned trombonist contributed to the music industry in various facets, including songwriting, composing and producing.

The internationally revered jazz artist’s death came on the same day as the country commemorated the deaths of legends Hugh Masekela and Oliver Mtukudzi.

Fellow musician Simphiwe Dana praised the work that Gwangwa did for South Africa: “May this maestro rest in peace.

The work he has done for this country is immeasurable.”

Gwangwa entered the music industry as one of many musicians mentored by alto saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi.

He joined the 1950s band The Jazz Epistles as a trombonist.


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