Johnny Clegg, one of South Africa's most celebrated musicians, dies age 66

Johnny Clegg, one of South Africa’s most celebrated musicians, has died at the age of 66.

Johnny had been battling pancreatic cancer and his long-time music manager, Ronny Quinn, announced the news of his death, revealing he had died peacefully at home in Johannesburg surrounded by his family.

Quinn said Johnny left ‘deep footprints in the hearts of every person that considers himself or herself to be an African’.

He added: ‘He showed us what it was to assimilate to and embrace other cultures without losing your identity.’

The British-born musician blended western and Zulu music, and his best known hit Asimbonanga, released in 1987, was dedicated to Nelson Mandela.

The song was one of the first to openly call for Mandela’s release; Asimbonanga means ‘we have not seen him’ in Zulu.

He was chosen to sing at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in 2013.

His song Dela was also used in the Brendan Fraser film George Of The Jungle.

Johnny became known as a political activist, breaking the law to play music with black musicians in South Africa’s era of racial apartheid.

He first began playing music with Juluka, a mixed-race band, which he formed with the black guitarist, Sipho Mchunu but his music was banned from South African radio until 1994 when apartheid ended.

‘We had to find our way around a myriad of laws that prevented us from mixing across racial lines,’ he told AFP news agency in 2017.

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