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Ray Phiri to be honoured with provincial funeral

The Presidency says this category of a funeral is designated by the President for distinguished persons such as Phiri.

FILE: Legendary musician Ray Phiri performs during the Africa Day Jazz Concert at the Nasrec Expo Centre on May 27, 2017.  Picture: Gallo Images.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has declared a special provincial official funeral for the late musician and legendary composer Ray Chikapa Phiri.

The award-winning performer died at the age of 70 at a Mpumalanga hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Phiri had been battling lung cancer.

The Presidency says this category of a funeral is designated by the President of the Republic of South Africa for distinguished persons such as Phiri.

In a statement, the president has instructed that the national flag be flown at half-mast in Mpumalanga province on Saturday, the day of Phiri’s funeral.

WATCH: I will always remain in people's hearts and minds

'HUMBLE, GENEROUS, HUMOROUS'

Last week, friend and fellow musician Sipho 'Hostix' Mabuse said Phiri was a generous and compassionate friend.

“When you hear the news that a person close to you has died, you don’t know whether you should cry or shout. I almost jumped out of my skin. We didn’t expect that he would be taken away so soon.”

Despite having shared the stage with other musical greats such as Paul Simon and receiving many accolades, friends say Phiri remained a humble man.

Fellow artist and friend Yvonne Chaka Chaka said, “The Ray Phiri I remember is selfless, humble and modest. Being a big star, he just acted like a normal man. He was not pompous and he was approachable – he was just down to earth and yet he was this big mega star.”

Phiri is the recipient of the South African Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver from President Zuma for his contribution to the liberation struggle and the transformation of the local music industry.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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