In photos: Jazz legend Jonas Gwangwa laid to rest on Friday

Internationally acclaimed jazz icon and cultural activist Jonas Gwangwa was laid rest in Johannesburg on Friday. The funeral was streamed live on YouTube today, and we’ll include the video below.

The service was held at Christ The King Anglican Church in Sophiatown, Johannesburg.

Jonas Gwangwa funeral service

Gwangwa passed away on 23 January 2021, the same day that claimed Zimbabwean jazz legend Oliver Mtukudzi in 2019, and Hugh Masekela in 2018. Gwangwa was 83 years of age at the time of his passing.

President Cyril Ramaphosa honoured Gwangwa in a poetic tribute on social media, describing Gwangwa as “a giant of our revolutionary cultural movement and our democratic creative industries”.

Ramaphosa said: “A giant of our revolutionary cultural movement and our democratic creative industries has been called to rest; the trombone that boomed with boldness and bravery, and equally warmed our hearts with mellow melody has lost its life force”.

“Jonas Gwanga ascends to our great orchestra of musical ancestors whose creative genius and dedication to the freedom of all South Africans inspired millions in our country and mobilised the international community against the apartheid system. As we mourn the loss of many precious lives around us, we pray also that the soul of Jonas Gwangwa will rest in peace.”

Jonas Gwangwa legacy

Gwangwa joined The Epistles band in the 1950s as a trombonist. After The Epistles disbanded, he became a composer and the first Black South African to release an album.

“I remember recording the first LP made by Black people in South Africa with the ‘The Jazz Epistles’ (Jazz in Africa) in 1959 when jazz pianist, John Mehegan toured the country”.

Jonas Gwangwa, 22 January 2018.

He left South Africa in 1961 and toured abroad with the musical King Kong, after which he spent 15 years in the United States where he enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music.

Gwangwa also gained popularity in the US after being featured in the Sound of Africa concert alongside Hugh Masekela. Read more here: The day jazz died – SA musician Jonas Gwangwa dies at 83

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Presh JM Reporter

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