S/Africa mourns renowned coral music composer

Late South African choral music composer and conductor Mzilikazi Khumalo was a “colossal figure” in the country's arts and cultural…

Late South African choral music composer and conductor Mzilikazi Khumalo was a “colossal figure” in the country’s arts and cultural landscape, Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Thursday.Khumalo, aged 89, died on Tuesday after decades of an impressive musical career. 

“As the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture, we celebrate his contribution to the arts and heritage landscape,” Mthethwa said in a statement. 

The late musician was part of the committee that amalgamated the Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika prayer with Die Stem, the apartheid regime’s national anthem, to form the post-apartheid South African national anthem.

Mthethwa said Khumalo was chosen by the committee to sing their composition to Parliament for approval.

Popular classical music conductor Richard Cock, a close friend of Khumalo who had worked with him since the 1980s, described the late composer was a giant in African classical music.

“He was a wonderful person. I was lucky to count him as one of my dearest friends. And I’m very sad that he has passed now,” said Cock, who also served on the same national anthem committee as Khumalo.

He added: “He was an extremely wise man. His counsel was always well thought through, accurate and to the point. We will miss his presence in the music in South Africa,” Cock said.

Apart from his work on the national anthem, the late composer would be remembered for his composition of his African choral classic “uShaka KaSenzangakhona”, according to his fans. 

“Composer, conductor, teacher and African choral music aficionado. A baobab has fallen. Rest in peace Prof Mzilikazi Khumalo,” tweeted Paul Mnisi, a fan of the composer.

Another admirer, Deano Maduramuthu, also tweeted: “Sad to hear of the passing of Prof Mzilikazi Khumalo, a giant of South African classical music. Have fond memories of my days in a choir, singing uShaka KaSenzangakhona, a beautiful work. RIP Prof.” 

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