The South African music industry experienced a double blow this past week with the news of the passing away of the legendary Tsepo Tshola and Pat Shange.
Tshola who was lovingly called The Village Pope was born in Lesotho and with his band Sankomota transcended boundaries to become a voice of the continent. At his death, he was a permanent resident of South Africa, but still with strong links with the country of his birth, in fact he passed on in his hometown of Teyateyaneng in Lesotho.
Tshola will be remembered for his artistic prowess, his boisterous and gravelly baritone that roared in his songs and countless collaborations with other musicians such as Rebecca Malope,Thandiswa Mazwai, Hugh Masekela, PJ Powers and Maduvha.
His song Stop the War, was a plea for the restoration of peace when South Africa underwent the birth pains of a new democracy. It has found relevance in today’s climate of unrest and uneasiness.
A proud son of the soil, Tshola delivered some anthemic songs of African pride and self-reliance. Now or Never, that he recorded with Sankomota, will remain a classic wake up call for people to get up and do something with their lives.
While the nation mourns his passing, it is also in his songbook that they find comfort. His song Ho Lokile adapated from a Lifela tsa Sione hymn (Ntate Ha Ke Sa Sepela) urges us to accept the reality of death and make peace with the departure of our loved ones. Tshola wrote this song in tribute to his late wife and its words have become a go-to reference at memorials and funerals.
Shange is a towering figure of the 1980s disco/bubblegum. His hit singles Sweet Mama and Casanova turned him into a household name. He died in Soweto early this week.
RiSA CEO Nhlanhla Sibisi sent his words of comfort: “The industry continues to lose its most powerful and inspirational figures. There was so much more that we expected from Ntate Tshola as one of the elders to help guide the new generations. We are devastated that we will not see him on our stages again but find comfort in his extensive catalogue of music”.
“Pat Shange provided relief at a time when South Africans felt the pinch of segregation and oppression. It was his music that entertained and comforted us. He will be remembered for the mark he made. We send our sympathy to the families and friends of Tshola and Shange and all those who supported his career. Lala kahle Dumakude. Robala ka Khotso The Village Pope. Ho lokile, it is well.”