THE DEATH of Raymond Chikapa Enock Phiri has left many disheartened and asking questions why now, when the country needed academics such as him for words of Wisdom?
After a lengthy battle with lung cancer, “Chikapa” was certified dead by family at the Nelspruit Hospital on Wednesday morning.
Family spokesperson Paul Nkanyane confirmed Phiri’s death and said that the star died at around 3:30 am surrounded by family and friends.
The Order of Ikhamanga recipient (the highest award presented by President JG Zuma) was hospitalised two weeks ago and his condition became public earlier this week when a close friend started a crowdfunding initiative to help pay for his medical costs.
During his stay at the hospital “Chikapa” called the public to respect his privacy and “let me deal with my pain in peace”.
His death follows of another legendary jazz stalwart Dr Johnny Mekoa, who was laid to rest this week.
“Chikapa” was a South African jazz, fusion and mbaqanga musician born in Mpumalanga to a Malawian immigrant worker and South African guitarist nicknamed “Just Now” Phiri.
He became founding member of the Cannibals in the 1970s.
The ruling party ANC has also sent messages of condolences to the family and friends of Phiri, the music industry on the loss of this Colossal, an icon in the industry and our country at large.
“Through Whispers in the Deep, amongst his many friends Nana Coyote, amongst others, taught us to forever remain inspired and never understand hate. They spoke of knowledge and pain, necessary preconditions to develop a single nation of love, formed from us- the ‘tributaries to the great river of pain’,” read a statement.
I had met him on numerous occassions while visiting the now defunct eVibe Music Magazine for interviews ages ago but only had an opportunity to interview him during the Glenlivet Evening event in Sandton, last year.
Our interview resonated on education and that he wanted to open a music school in Nelspruit, amongst other things he wanted to achieve.
“I want to share, impart with these up-coming kids to understand the basics of music -not just sing without facts or lack of message of deliverance- passion and what music means globally,” he said with that signature smile, as he puffed the white stick.
At the time of his death he was 70.
Jazz pioneer Bra Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse also sent his messages of heartfelt condolences to the family.
Sello “Chicco” Twala, another musical great was unavailable for comment at the time of publishing.
If only I had just one last chance to see you perform, if only!
Rest eternally in Peace, “Chikapa“