Tributes for Johnny Clegg



Colleta Dewa in Johannesburg

Tributes poured in this week for the late music icon Johnny Clegg who succumbed to cancer at the age of 66 on Tuesday. President Ramaphosa, politicians and fellow artists are among those who poured out their hearts.


President Cyril Ramaphosa:

 “A beloved, inspirational and heroic voice has fallen silent and leaves all of us bereft of an exceptional compatriot and icon of social cohesion and non-racialism.  Johnny Clegg’s special relationship with Sipho Mchunu in Juluka, as well as with Dudu Zulu in Savuka, gave apartheid-era South Africa a window on the non-racial South Africa we were determined to achieve. Johnny Clegg will always live on in our hearts and in our homes as we replay his stirring blend of cultural celebration and political resistance. We have lost a special patriot.”


African National Congress (ANC):

“The ANC is saddened by the untimely passing of one of South Africa’s music legend, Mr Johnny Clegg. Mr Clegg, 66, has not been well for some time as he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015. Mr Clegg was known as the voice of transition in South Africa.”


Democratic Alliance (DA):

“Indeed, a giant has fallen – Johnny Clegg was one of the few South African musicians whose music was able to unite people across cultural and racial backgrounds, as well as tie different generations together. His contribution to the struggle for a democratic South Africa through song will always ring dearly in our hearts. Johnny Clegg may have played his last note but his music will live forever.”


Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF):

The EFF shared their message via their official account, acknowledging the vital contribution Johnny Clegg has made to both the music industry and the political environment of the 1980s and 1990s.


African Transformation Movement:

“We wish to pass our condolences to the Clegg family for the passing of Johnny Clegg. Rest in eternal peace.”


 Mmusi Maimane DA leader:

“I'm deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Johnny Clegg.  A true legend and one of our greatest ambassadors. He wrote our SA story when our country was at its worst and at its best. I'd like to extend my heartfelt condolences to his family, may his soul rest in peace.”


Bantu Holomisa :

“SA musician Johnny Clegg has died. Johnny you played your innings with distinction mfowethu. You were the mirror of how we should live together in SA. Ambassador par excellency. Bon voyage . My condolences. RIP Johnny.”


Minister Patricia de Lille:

“Johnny Clegg was an anthropologist and cultural legend who transcended race to shine a bright ray of light and hope from apartheid South Africa.  Condolences to family. Thank you for sharing Johnny with us.”



Prof Thuli Madonsela

“Profoundly heart breaking to receive the news of the untimely passing of music icon and anti-apartheid activist Johnny Clegg. RIP Johnny Clegg.”


Herman Mashaba:

“Oh my Goodness.., just learned of the death of legendary musician, Johnny Clegg. Another loss to South African arts industry. May his soul rest peace.”


Nelson Mandela Foundation:

“The Nelson Mandela Foundation mourns the passing of a musical icon and a freedom fighter Johnny Clegg. We are blessed to have seen him. We will keep singing Asimbonanga.  We will keep working for the country of his dreams. Hamba kahle qhawe lamaqhawe.”


Minister Nathi Mthethwa:

“A towering giant has fallen with the passing of legendary singer-songwriter and anthropologist, Johnny Clegg. Our hearts are sore and as he famously sang in Asimbonanga ‘oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey’ as we contend with the loss of a torchbearer of our struggle for freedom.”


Department of International Relations and Cooperation:

“The passing of Johnny Clegg Real is not only a loss to South Africa, but to the world. Mr. Johnny Clegg, a son of South Africa, flew the country’s flag to many heights. May his soul rest in peace.”


Musical legend, Abigail Kubeka:

“You know these are the people that you mourn their death, but celebrate their lives. We are still mourning and celebrating Nkonyeni’s life and now there’s Johnny Clegg. I don’t like feel crying anymore. I just feel like singing and dancing and celebrating them because these are people that have made history; that have graced the music industry that have made me proud to be in the industry.”


Ladysmith Black Mambazo manager, Xolani Majozi:

“This is very disturbing news to all of us in Ladysmith Black Mambazo and also to the rest of the country because Johnny Clegg was a giant and a great legend who was promoting indigenous music, not only here in South Africa, but throughout the world. And he was flying the South African flag very high and he’s been an ambassador of South African music and heritage and it’s quite very sad to hear the news of his passing.”



“During the time of the apartheid era, he was very vocal using music to give people hope that one day South Africa will be free and also talking to the world expressing the feeling and the hardship of the people of South Africa during the time of apartheid. His music was also across cultures. The kind of music he was doing was enjoyed by everyone from all race groups and he was a unifying factor within society.”


Soweto Gospel Choir:

“SGC is devastated at the passing of Johnny Clegg. An music icon and a true South African. We shall miss him with all our hearts.  Rest in peace.”


 Jazz musician Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse:

 “It’s probably one of the most sad days in this country again to have lost someone like him. I’m shocked; I’m completely saddened by the news because I was always in touch with him. We spoke on the phone. But then again, we never know when this will happen. I’m extremely saddened by this.”







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