Mzilikazi Khumalo: SA recording industry in mourning

Khumalo was known and respected for his contribution to the composition of the post-apartheid South African national anthem.

Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo, one of the country’s most notable choral music composers and conductors passed away yesterday at the age of 89.

Khumalo was known and respected for the work he contributed to the composition of the post-apartheid South African national anthem, a fusion of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and Die Stem.

Recording Idustry of South Africa CEO Nhanhla Sibisi sent his heartfelt condolences

“The passing away of Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo is a serious loss to the music industry. He was a repository of knowledge and a well of information when it comes to African folklore, musicality and choral music,” Sibisi said.

“He lived a long and beautiful life and gave his country a great songbook that includes a national anthem we can be proud of. We send our condolences to the Khumalo family, the choral music community, colleagues and fans of this iconic son of the soil,” he said.

Khumalo was professor emeritus of African languages at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).

After matric, he studied at a teachers training college in Mamelodi, Pretoria, earning a bachelor’s degree with majors in English and Zulu from the University of South Africa in 1956.

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He was a tutor at in the Department of African Languages at Wits from 1969, climbing the academic ladder up to professors and head of the department.

Choral music reached its golden era under Khumalo’s baton. Starting with his first composition, Ma Ngificwa Ukufa, which premiered in 1959, Khumalo’s career took off.

The composer’s compositions have been recorded by the South African National Symphony Orchestra and SABC Chamber Choir conducted by Richard Cock. Among his most revered works is the cantata uShaka KaSenzangakhona which narrates the story of Shaka, the king of Amazulu.

In 1986 he composed a choral work for the inauguration of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of the Anglican Church. His commissioned work of Princess Magogo kaDinizulu in 2002 was groundbreaking as the first Zulu language opera. It was a celebration of the life of Amazulu princess, musician and poet Princess Constance Magogo ka Dinizulu.

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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