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Late Joseph Shabalala hailed as a musical genius

President Cyril Ramaphosa and other political leaders joined fans in paying tribute to Shabalala, who died on Tuesday at the age of 78.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala. Picture: @therealmambazo/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala is being remembered as a musical genius whose legacy will live on for many years.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and other political leaders joined fans in paying tribute to Shabalala, who died on Tuesday at the age of 78. The award-winning singer was described as a patriotic South African and one of the country’s greatest exports.

Joseph Shabalala & the global phenomenon of Ladysmith Black Mambazo

The president has described Shabalala as a “cultural ambassador”. He said that Ladysmith Black Mambazo touched and united people around the country and globally.

“The inspirational leadership and passion of Joseph Shabalala ensured that Ladysmith Black Mambazo filled the hearts of humanity with their joyfulness, sadness, and poignancy – from the villages and towns of their origins in KwaZulu-Natal to the far corners of the earth,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.

“The acclaim which has earned the group recognition and countless awards at home and abroad is evidence of the ability of Joseph Shabalala and his group were able to touch and unite people around the country and globally,” he added.

WATCH: Ladysmith Black Mambazo mourns Joseph Shabalala

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise also paid tribute to Shabalala, saying his death was poignant as it came on the same day as the commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

“We appreciate his popularising and taking to the international stage the centuries-old isicathamiya and mbube music, and are confident that it will live on to continue bringing hope and joy to future generations. Our thoughts are with Mr Shabalala’s wife, family, and friends at this sad time,” said Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo in a statement.

The Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, and Economic Freedom Fighters also expressed their condolences.