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Tributes Pour in Over Death of  Legendary South African Musician Johnny Legg

By Ashok Ramsarup :: Tributes are pouring in following the death of legendary South African musician Johnny Clegg at his home in Johannesburg. Clegg died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 66 his family home.

The veteran singer has left an indelible mark in the country fighting the apartheid struggle encouraging South Africans to embrace other cultures without losing one’s identity.

Clegg’s manager Roddy Quin said the Grammy-nominated singer fought many barriers and celebrated the new democracy under the Nelson Mandela 25 years ago.  Tomorrow marks International Mandela Day, which is celebrated on the 18th of July.  It’s an annual international day adopted by the United Nations celebrating Mandela’s life legacy.

Clegg, who was born in  Britain, emigrated with his Rhodesian mother when he was six years old to South Africa. He was exposed to Zulu migrants at a tender age and during his youth, he was introduced to their culture and music.

Quin said Clegg was often arrested during his involvement with Black musicians. At the age of 17, Sipho Mchunu and Clegg formed the first band JULUKA. During the height of apartheid, he teamed up with Dudu Zulu to form SAVUKA.

He also lectured at Wits University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Clegg studied anthropology and combined his studies with music.

Among his accolades, Clegg was awarded a Knight of Arts and Letters by the French Government in 1991. In 2015 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 2012 he was honoured by the South African government with the Order of Ikhamanga. Clegg also obtained Honorary Doctorates from several institutions including Dartmouth College and the City University of New York in the United States.

During his music career, Clegg sold several million albums, providing a platform to the anti-apartheid struggle and the transition to democracy in 1994.

During a television interview, Clegg said he was bowled over when he sang the song “Asimbonanga” which was dedicated to Mandela, who later became South Africa’s first president.

In that interview, he said the highlight of his career was when Mandela made a surprise entrance on stage during a performance in the German city, Frankfurt, in 1999.

Several politicians heaped new praises on Clegg for his role in the struggle against the former apartheid government and creating unity in diversity.

Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa 🇿🇦 

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