Mandoza death: Tributes paid to South Africa kwaito star

  • Published
Musical artist Mandoza poses backstage during 'MTV Base 100th Live!' at the Ster-Kinekor Top Star Drive-In on April 20, 2005Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mandoza was a star of South Africa's kwaito scene and was praised for bringing together white and black audiences

Tributes are pouring in from across South Africa for kwaito musician Mduduzi "Mandoza" Tshabalala who died after a year-long battle with cancer.

Mandoza, 38, took to the stage in recent weeks at a concert at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, despite having lost his sight due to illness.

His friends and family say he was determined to perform until the end.

The musician's hit song Nkalakatha has been praised for unifying black and white South Africans.

Nkalakatha, a Zulu word which loosely means "the big boss", was about celebrating success.

South Africans have taken to social media to send condolences to Mandoza's family, and it has also become a way of honouring and celebrating the star for his contribution to the local music industry, says the BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg.

Many are calling him a "legend", and he is being lauded for putting up a brave fight and insisting on performing even when his health was failing, our correspondent says.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mandoza wanted to encourage young people to turn away from a life of crime

Mandoza's friend Kevin Ntaopane, who says the musician died in his arms, spoke to SABC news about his last words.

"He was sick and was under doctor's orders but he said 'I'm going to perform and prove to the people that I'm not dead. I'll die on the stage‚ I'll die singing.

"'I was born to do this. And no sickness is going to stop Mandoza.'"

Kwaito is a South African genre of music which emerged in the 1990s, it is a unique dance and house style often likened to US hip-hop.

With most songs being about street culture, it was the sound of South Africa's new found freedom from white minority rule.

It was a chance for musicians to speak out about equality, poverty, oppression but also hope and overcoming great odds.

From criminal to super star

His son Tokollo spoke proudly of his father.

"I think I'm just happy that my dad died a proud man because he had everything he wanted in life. Every time he'd tell me that he never got a chance to spend time with his dad‚ so all he ever wanted was to raise his children‚" Tokollo said in an interview with SABC news.

Mandoza was born in 1978 in Zola, a notoriously rough area, in Soweto, a large township in the country's main city Johannesburg.

When he was 16 years old he was arrested for stealing a car and spent over a year in prison. After his release he was determined to make a life for himself and formed the group Chiskop, which went on to win multiple local awards.

He used his music to encourage young people in the township to turn away from crime.

Mandoza had not released a new song in years but his hits, Nkalakatha, Respect Life, Sgelekeqe and Tornado still remain crowd pleasers, transcending race.

Around the BBC