Jonas Gwangwa, South African iconic trombonist and composer, whose music powered the anti-apartheid struggle, has passed away at 83.


According to a statement on the country’s official presidential website, the legendary musician breathed his last on Saturday.

Details of his death, however, remain sketchy as of the time this report was filed.

The ace singer cum activist was born in October 1937 in Soweto and had an impressive music career spanning 40 years.


Gwangwa bagged an Oscar nomination for the theme song of ‘Cry Freedom’, a 1987 film.

He was also awarded the Order of Ikhamanga, South Africa’s highest national award presented for achievements in art and culture, in 2010.

In the statement, Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa president, hailed the heroics of the deceased during his lifetime.

“A giant of our revolutionary cultural movement and our democratic creative industries has been called to rest,” he said.


“The trombone that boomed with boldness and bravery, and equally warmed our hearts with mellow melody has lost its life force.

“He delighted audiences in Sophiatown until it became illegal for black people to congregate and South African musicians were jailed merely for practicing their craft.

“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.”


Gwangwa died on the third anniversary of the death of Hugh Masekela, who is dubbed “father of South African jazz”.

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