(24 September 1957 – 28 January 2021) – The songbird sings no more

From the streets of Soweto to the world stage, legendary musician Sibongile Khumalo knew just how to hit the right notes with her melodious voice and powerful lyrical content.

With a career spanning over three decades, the world-renowned jazz and opera vocalist inspired many artists in the classical, jazz, gospel and opera genres.

She shared her gift of song at the inauguration of South Africa’s first black democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela in 1994. Ma’Mngoma as she was affectionately known, also showcased her world class talent to  the world  at the final Rugby World Cup match in 1995.

Her dedication and contribution to the South African music industry will be remembered especially when  she was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver in 2008 for her ‘excellent contribution to the development of South Africa’s art and culture in the musical fields of jazz and opera’ by former President Thabo Mbeki.

Some of her accolades include the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music in 1993, four South African Music Awards for her light music and jazz recordings, and three FNB Vita Awards for her opera and concert work.

An advocate for the arts Ma’Mngoma was part of Brand South Africa’s Nation Brand Forum in 2018 where she pleaded the importance of investing resources to nurture the arts as South Africa’s melting pot of talent  that sets  the country apart from the world and harnessing of  its uniquely diverse African identity.

In an official statement by the family; “She will be missed by all who had the privilege of experiencing her music, her friendship and her love. Dr Khumalo succumbed to stroke-related complications after a lengthy period of illness. The family is grateful for the support and prayers during this time.”

South Africans took to social media to share their tributes to the songbird;

@CyrilRamaphosa: “This is a moment of great sadness for all of us who were mesmerised and moved by the power, sensuality and improvisation of Sibongile Khumalo’s unique voice. #RIPSibongileKhumalo 🕊”

@siphohotstix: “Gutted my dear dear friend Sibongile – I am hurting… I have no words – an absolute icon – Rest in Peace #RIPSibongileKhumalo”

@ChristoThurston: “A golden voice is now silent on earth. An African queen! A global icon! I have admired her since I was a child. Rest in peace Mama Sibongile Khumalo. You are now the lead singer in heaven’s choir. #RIPSibongileKhumalo”

@ferialhaffajee: “Her music lives on but the loss of our national songbird is like losing our voice. Rise in power, #SibongileKhumalo”

@sellomkn: “I remember this day like it was just yesterday, what a talent you were and it’s so sad that we now have to use your talent in past tense! #RIPSibongileKhumalo”

Brand South Africa salutes Mam’Sibongile Khumalo for her contribution to strengthening the Nation Brand and flying the South African flag on the global stage. Some of her greatest hits include Mayihlome, Ntyilo ntyilo and Thula Mama .South Africa has lost a powerful voice but her legacy will live on.

Additional source : www.thepresidency.gov.za