News of his death came as a shock to everyone, especially his industry friends.
They had just been with him not long ago and everything was fine. Suddenly he was gone.
On Sunday 23 May, record company Kalawa Jazmee released a statement announcing the passing of Trompies member, Emmanuel Majalefa Matsane, fondly known by close friends and fans as Mjokes. He died following a car accident in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Saddened by the passing of his childhood best friend and member of Trompies, Jairus “Jakarumba” Nkwe says he cannot imagine a life without Mjokes.
“He was my best friend, and we were like blood brothers,” he says.
“We grew up together in Meadowlands, Soweto and we were friends even before Trompies. We had a passion for music in common and as kids up until adulthood, we spent almost every day together."
Jakarumba says the tragic loss of Kalawa co-founder happened after a gig at Soweto nightclub, Disoufeng where they had been performing.
“Mjokes lives in Midrand and when we finished with the gig we parted ways.”
At 3am, his phone was ringing nonstop, he tells us but he was too tired to answer but eventually picked up at 5am and heard the bad news.
“I was woken up by the bad news. That was the last thing I had expected to hear,” Jakarumba says.
On the night of his passing, Jakarumba says Mjokes had been giving all his friends advice about unity.
“He put on the persona of a pastor and started joking and preaching about how we have come a long way and we need to be united, focused, and grateful for our spouses, children, and families. It’s almost as if he knew those would be his last words,” Jakarumba says.
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Jakarumba described his childhood friend as creative, a joker, a peacemaker, and a mentor.
“He was responsible for developing new artists at Kalawa. He was a composer, songwriter, brother, a creative and talented person. Mjokes was a jolly good fellow, wherever he went there was joy and laughter. But most importantly he was passionate about music and grooming young talent. Everyone knew who came to join Kalawa Jazmee went under his wing,” Jakarumba says.
After attending music school together in Soweto, they helped to build Kalawa Jazmee, as board members.
“The Jazmee in Kalawa stands for Jairus, Zane, Mandla, Eugene, and Emmanuel - Mjokes real name and then we had other board members Oskido Mdlongwa, Bruce Sebitlo, and Don Laka. So, his contribution was immense to building the business,” Jakarumba says.
For many years, people knew the Kwaito group Trompies as just four members Mandla "Spikiri" Mofokeng, Eugene "Donald Duck" Mthethwa, Jairus "Jakarumba" Nkwe, and Zynne "Mahoota" Sibika but Mjokes was working tirelessly in the background from the time the group started.
“We did the Kasi Kwaito Rap but Mjokes was the one responsible for the melodies and leading the group because he could sing. For years, he led the group from the back and had a solo career as Copperhead. Many people did not know he was the brains behind many hits like Sweety Lavo and Ke Tswa Hole,” Jakarumba says.
It was in 2013 on the release of the album Mapatsula Julle Moenie Worrie, they felt Mjokes needed to come to the forefront for people to see him.
“He came with an unmatched energy on stage which was very contagious,” Jakarumba says.
Struggling to accept his passing, Jakarumba says he will miss his friend dearly.
“I have not accepted his death. We went to the scene after they had taken his body, we have spoken to his wife, parents, and children. It is true. Only God can help us to accept this tragedy,” Jakarumba says.
“I am going to miss him. On stage he gave me a lot of energy, in the studio his creativity and ability to lead. I will miss the love and advice he gave us as friends."
Oskido, who has known Mjokes for more than 25 years, says his death is a great loss for the music industry, family, and friends.
“The reason our business became a success is because we were friends before and we valued our friendship and communication. He will be missed dearly.”