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Jonas Gwangwa, award-winning jazz legend, passes away aged 83

Jonas Gwangwa's death falls on the third anniversary of fellow South Africa jazz legend Hugh Masekela's death and the third anniversary of Zimbabwean legend Oliver Mtukudzi's death.

FILE: Jonas Gwangwa. Picture: Cyril Ramaphosa/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has lost yet another giant in the arts. Award-winning jazz musician Jonas Mosa Gwangwa has passed away aged 83.

Gwangwa's death falls on the third anniversary of fellow South Africa jazz legend Hugh Masekela's death and the third anniversary of Zimbabwean legend Oliver Mtukudzi's death.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to Gwangwa, saying: "Jonas Gwanga ascends to our great orchestra of musical ancestors whose creative genius & dedication to the freedom of all South Africans inspired millions in our country & mobilised the international community against the apartheid system.

"In our hour of mourning the loss of many precious lives around us, we pray also that the soul of Jonas Gwangwa will rest in peace."

Born in Orlando East, Soweto, Gwangwa is most well-known for songs such as Morwa and Kgomo.

He carved an illustrious career for himself alongside the likes of Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, particularly in the 1960s when they all left apartheid South Africa for the US.

According to SA History Online, Gwangwa was mentored by jazz legend Kippie Moeketsi at the start of his music career.

While overseas, he was instrumental in productions such as King Kong andCry Freedom and attended the Manhattan School of Music.

He returned home in 1991, just after the unbanning of political parties and the release of Nelson Mandela. Here at home, he continued his magical work, producing commercial music and producing the theme song for the then-new soapie Generations.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

Gwangwa's song for the movie Cry Freedom was nominated for a Grammy, Bafta and Golden Globe in 1988. He performed the song at the Grammy Awards in the US that same year.

He also received numerous awards here in South Africa including South African Music Awards in the jazz category.

He received the National Order of Ikhamanga from President Cyril Ramaphosa for his exceptional contribution to music and the struggle for freedom in South Africa.

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