Tributes pour in for Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala, who passed away on Tuesday.

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) has commended the 78-year-old’s contribution to the struggle against apartheid, as well as his contribution on the musical stage.

“His passing is a great loss, not only to his family but to the music industry, the country and the international stage at large. His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in peace,” said the GCIS in a statement on Wednesday.

The founder of the Grammy award-winning isicathamiya group passed away at Life Eugene Marais Hospital in Tshwane.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been singing songs of peace since the early 1960s. Shabalala retired in 2014, after 50-years of leading the group.

“The whole nation mourns this talented icon, whose music not only put South Africa on the global stage but also could be heard in the suburbs, townships, villages and all corners of our country. He was well known for his unique and stirring vocals,” the GCIS said.

A key highlight in their history was a collaboration with Paul Simon, who produced the group’s first worldwide release, ‘Shaka Zulu’, which garnered the group their first Grammy Award in 1988 for Best Folk Recording.

The group has won five Grammy Awards and travelled the world, putting South Africa’s music industry on the map in an innovative way.

The KwaZulu-Natal Legislature joined President Cyril Ramaphosa and the GCIS in conveying their condolences.

“As a province and the country, we have lost a doyen of immense musical talent. We are deeply saddened by the passing of uBaba uJoseph Shabalala. While he had been sick for some time, we kept hoping that he would eventually recuperate. However, it was not to be. On behalf of the entire KZN Legislature, we wish his family strength during this time,“ said Legislature Speaker Nontembeko Boyce.

Boyce described Shabalala as one the country’s greatest musical exports, whose musical contributions had drawn the attention of the world to South Africa for close to six decades.

In a statement on Tuesday, President Ramaphosa said Shabalala’s passing is a sad moment for the country.

“The passing of Joseph Shabalala is a terribly sad moment for the nation and the world in whose ears the isicathamiya and mbube crafted by Ladysmith Black Mambazo will ring for generations to come,” said President Ramaphosa.

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