Cosatu: Statement by Patrick Craven, Congress of South African Trade Unions spokesperson, on Winston Ngozi (13/10/2009)

13th October 2009

The Congress of South African Trade Unions and the Creative Workers Union of South Africa join all music lovers in mourning the sad passing of Jazz star Winston ‘Mankunku' Ngozi on 13 October 2009 after a long struggle with illness.

He was a jazz legend, without doubt one of the greatest musicians South Africa has produced, and his jazz wizardry had a global impact.

He was born in Retreat, Cape Town, in 1943 and took up saxophone in his teens. The family were victims of the notorious Group Areas Act in the early 1960s, when they were uprooted from their home and relocated to Gugulethu.

But Winston's career flourished. In 1968 he recorded the famous blockbuster, Yakhal'Nkomo, with Early Mabuza, Agrippa Magwaza and Lionel Pillay. It won him the Castle Lager "Jazz Musician of the Year" award for 1968, yet despite that award, and good sales of the album, he received barely any financial reward.

The works of such giants as Mankunku and his colleague Abdullar Ibrahim kept citizens in their senses and normal in difficult apartheid times. Their sounds provided much-needed therapy.

He influenced a lot of younger members of the jazz world, including Jimmy Dludlu, Sylvia Mdunyelwa and McCoy Mrubata. The sounds of different creative notes in his head kept on reverberating even when the body was weakening.

Winston passed on a few days after the historic launch of the KZN Music House Studio to cater for up-and-coming musicians in Durban. We hope this facility will produce more Winston Mankunku Ngozis.

Let's allow him to join the eternal gig, and play his music ad infinitum.