State Theatre pays tribute to Sibongile Khumalo
The South African State Theatre (SAST) is deeply sorrowed by the passing of our country’s treasured musical icon Mama Sibongile Khumalo, who passed away on 28 January 2021. The council, executive management and staff wish to convey commiserations to the Khumalo family and wish them strength in the bereavement. May her soul rest in peace.
Mama Khumalo was a consummate leader, distinguished performer, music healer, woman of fortitude and mother to the arts, and a pillar for not only the performing arts industry, but for South Africa, the African continent, and the world. Whenever the land and its people needed healing and restoration, the elders knew of a talisman who could perform the great deed. Now she is no more, we weep.
Her soul stirring melodic voice was able to strike a chord whenever to whomever she performed. Using her craft in activism, she was a voice for the voiceless and stood up for those who could not stand for themselves. Her commitment to the African agenda and contribution towards nation building to achieving social cohesion, is a legacy to be encored by the walls and stages of the State Theatre for generations to come.
Mama Khumalo was an internationally revered musical maestro who was one of the great singing talents of her time and inspired the creation of new music by South African composers, both in the classical art song, opera as well as jazz genres. She was a recipient of National Order of Ikhamanga in Silver (OIS), by Order of the President of South Africa, in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of arts and culture in South Africa.
The SAST had the honour to work with Mama Khumalo before she could take her final bow. Her final curtain call comes months after she performed for a virtual audience from an empty 1300 seating Opera Theatre, during the theatre’s Women’s Month Celebration programme, held under Covid-19 Lockdown conditions in September 2020. As a musical genius, she proved to be a dynamic force able to remain relevant even in harsh environmental waves such as Covid-19 that sought to threaten her craft’s survival. Unwavering, the revolutionary was able to adapt to the times and emerge above and beyond all prospects.
A year before, in 2019, the late songbird displayed resilience and courage when she heeded a call to lead a group of young artists in a production called Kwanele, written and directed by award-winning playwright and director Aubrey Sekhabi. The production aimed at denouncing the then xenophobic attacks and gender-based violence in the country, would showcase at the State Theatre’s 2019 Mzansi Fela festival after returning from the Festival of Cultures at the first Biennale of Luanda – Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace, which took place in Luanda, Angola.
The stage will miss you. Your legacy is an eternal flame which will torch on. Mama Sibongile Khumalo may your soul rest in peace!
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