South African musician Johnny Clegg dies at 66

South African singer and songwriter Johnny Clegg, one of the few white artists to openly confront the apartheid government in the late 1970s and 1980s, died on Tuesday aged 66, his agent said.

He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015.

A Grammy nominee and Billboard music award winner, British-born Clegg was known by many South Africans as “umlungu omnyama”, or “the black white person”. He spoke fluent Zulu and mixed it into his traditional folk music, or ‘mbaqanga’.

On its official Twitter page, South Africa’s government paid tribute to Clegg’s achievements.

“His music had the ability to unite people across the races and bring them together as a community. We send our sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans,” it said.

“Clegg has made an indelible mark in the music industry and the hearts of the people”.

Clegg formed the band Juluka in 1969 with the black guitarist Sipho Mchunu at a time when mixing among races was still illegal under South Africa’s institutional segregation.


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