The Demise of Jonas Gwangwa, South African Jazz Musician


Losing someone important is one of the most heartbreaking moments. Often you hear people lament death robbed me of my friend, relatives, parents, etc. That affirms that indeed death exists. Recently, South Africans are in mourning following the loss of a potent jazz musician. Mr. Gwangwa, the legendary jazz musician, succumbed on 23rd January. His demise has left many in shock, family in sorrow, and the country at large in mourning.

The Early Life of Mr. Gwangwa

Mr. Gwangwa was born in Orlando East, Soweto, to both Mr. and Mrs. Gwangwa on 19th October 1937. He started his early life as a songwriter, composing diverse jazz lyrics. However, with time, he developed a career as a producer and jazz musician. He rose to fame when he started playing trombone with Jazz Epistles. Within no time, his music started gaining international prominence. His songs were played both at home and in foreign lands.

In 1965, Mr. Gwangwa got an invitation to perform in the Sound of Africa concert. He was short-lived with joy, meeting Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Letta Mbulu. On that day, his performance ignited much pleasure. Nevertheless, by the time Gwangwa’s popularity became widespread, the colonial government had denominated the South African State, introduced apartheid rule, and mistreated most blacks. As such, despite gaining international fame, the apartheid government did not favor him.

Later, between 1980 and 1990, Mr. Gwangwa started composing films like Cry Freedom. The latter was Gwangwa’s most loved song. It was the most sang and played music during the anti-apartheid struggle. The song also granted him a chance as an Oscar nominee in 1987.

Fall of Mr. Gwangwa

The unprecedented news of Gwangwa’s death saddened many South Africans. His demise follows suit 17 years after his wife’s. Although not much is out regarding the cause of his death, many sure loved the 83-year-old. Family, friends, social media were all buzzing with condolence messages.

President Cyrill Ramaphosa led tributes to the legendary musician. Poured his heart out, calling the deceased a giant in their revolutionary cultural and democratic creative industries. The sound of Gwangwa’s trombone remains vivid in their ears. The bravery and boldness with which his music boomed still please the ears of many. Though he’s dead, his legacy remains strong and unbreakable. That’s how much Mr. Gwangwa has impacted his country.

” He delighted audiences in Sophia town until it became illegal for black people to congregate, and South African musicians were jailed merely for practicing their craft,” the presidency’s statement said.

His family described him as a legendary musician, loving father, devoted husband, grandfather, and mentor to many. The devastation he left behind will sure take some time to heal.

Many will remember Jonas for his outstanding achievements. In 2010, Gwangwa won an award for the order of Ikhamanga. The latter symbolized one’s achievements in art and culture. The award recognized his work as a composer, arranger, and musical director of Amandla Cultural Ensemble. Activists formed this cultural group from the African National Congress.





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