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State funeral for legendary musician Tshepo Tshola


  • Majoro and Ramaphosa lead the tributes for Afro-jazz maestro who put Lesotho on the world map

‘Marafaele Mohloboli/ Herbert Moyo

INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed Afro-jazz music legend, Tshepo Tshola, will be given a state-assisted funeral once the government and the Tshola family have agreed on the modalities.

The Teyateyaneng-born star, who was affectionately known as “The Village Pope” for his hauntingly beautiful socially conscious music, delivered in rich booming voice, succumbed to Covid-19 complications on 15 July 2021.

He will be laid to rest in Thaba-Bosiu, Maseru, at a church cemetery designated for heroes.

Home Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa said the government was still in talks with the Tshola family over the modalities of the funeral. He said once everything has been finalised the government will take over the funeral arrangements “as well as the costs”.

Tshola’s Road Manager and bass guitar player, Tlali Lebitsa, said the late musician’s family and the government were still in talks to “wrap up some technical issues” concerning his memorial ceremony and burial.

“Government officials and members of Ntate Tshepo’s family will tomorrow (today) tour Thaba-Bosiu and thereafter they will decide whether he will be buried at the Thaba-Bosiu Cultural Village or at the church cemetery (also in Thaba Bosiu),” Mr Lebitsa said.

“The memorial service shall be held at Maseru Club grounds or Setsoto Stadium on Wednesday. Everything will be clear once the cabinet meets and releases an official statement,” he added.

Tshola’s death, at 68, brings the curtain down on a colourful music career spanning four decades.

Some of his best-known hits were recorded during his time with the band, Sankomota, where he teamed up with another legendary musician, the late Frank Leepa.

Together they churned out hits such as “Stop the War” and “Papa”. Tshola’s discography included other hits such as “Ho lokile”, “Shine Your Light”, “Ke bale”, “Empa joale ho felile” and “You Inspire Me”.

His music was well-received in different southern African countries including South Africa and Zimbabwe where he played out to packed audiences whenever he performed live.

He received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the prestigious Metro Music Awards in South Africa in 2015.

Three years later, in July 2018, he was conferred with Commander of the Most Loyal Order of Ramatšeatsana by His Majesty King Letsie III.

Meanwhile, the tributes have been pouring in from near, far and wide for the late music icon.

In a weekend statement, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro said he had learnt “with great sadness the passing of Tshepo Mobu Tshola, Lesotho’s legendary jazz musician”.

The premier noted that Tshola had enjoyed a long and illustrious career from the 1970s and at some point “was lead vocalist and composer for Sankomota, the renowned musical group, which also originates in Lesotho”.

“On behalf of the government and the Basotho nation, the Prime Minister extends his deepest condolences to the Tshola family, the entire entertainment industry and music lovers both locally and internationally. May his departed soul rest in eternal peace,” the premier’s statement said.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also passed his condolences to Tshepo Tshola, saying, he was “one of most outstanding artistes”.

South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, said she was saddened to learn about the passing of “legendary songwriter and musician, Ntate Tshepo Tshola”.

“His melodical tunes from the Sankomota days to his solo compilations will linger forever in our minds. My word of special comfort goes out to his family, friends, loved ones and followers. No amount of words and comfort expressed during this time will be befitting for such a magnificent icon. Nor could it overcome the accompanying grief” said Minister Mthethwa.

Legendary South African singer, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, said “Tshepo Tshola was a great musician a leader, a born leader.

“I don’t even know what to say now that he is no more. We did a show together in Botswana two years ago and we had such a great time. His music will always live on,” Chaka Chaka added.

South African actress Terry Pheto tweeted, “My late dad and I loved Ntate Tshepo Tshola so much. This is so sad. Rest in peace and thank you for the beautiful music Ntate.”

Fellow South African actress Dineo Langa tweeted, “Tshepo Tshola has been part of every celebration and loss in most of our homes.

“It’s like his voice held space for black joy and black pain. It feels like someone just shot a missile through our artistic DNA.”

Zimbabwe’s former Deputy Justice Minister, Obert Gutu, said he was saddened by the death of Tshola.

“Legends never die. They simply go home to rest. I idolised this guy, the Village Pope.

“(He was) one of the two giants powering the iconic Afro-jazz outfit, Sankomota, together with the late Frank Leepa. This whole weekend the CD album “Greatest hits of Sankomota” will be playing on repeat,” Mr Gutu said.



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