Mike Tshehla Phahlane is the man who gave Soweto its name back in 1963

Mike Tshehla Phahlane, the man who gave Soweto its name back in 1963, slipped away quietly two weeks ago without a single mention in local media despite the fact that he was the pioneer of black South African journalism and one of its finest wordsmiths.

Only the Sowetan carried a 31-word funeral notice accompanied by the standard black and white photo in the weekly In Memoriam section. He didn’t make it in the obituaries page.

His huge significance in South African journalism in general and jazz writing in particularly was a fact that the paper’s editorial team was evidently unaware of. He was just another dead Sowetan.

The man nicknamed The Indestructible because of his legendary reputation for having survived a number of near-death experiences, lived most of his life in obscurity and died in obscurity, thanks to an uncaring, insensitive and oblivious society. He was the invisible man in the real sense because all South Africans simply refused to recognise the squat, forlon figure who roamed the streets of Johannesburg as one of the city’s homeless people. He lived a hard and undignified existence, not out of his own choice but because as a country we failed him.

Born 26 March 1921 in old Sophiatown, in 1943 he joined Zonk, the first English magazine for African readers. He covered a number of beats but distinguished himself as a jazz critic, definitely the first one on the continent. He wore his passion for this noble art on his sleeve and with his elegant but cheeky prose, championed its beauty and cause on the pages of the racy publication. Jazz introduced him to a young and lanky pianist from Cape Town. He loved the shy musician’s efforts on the ivories but he didn’t like his name. Johannes Adolphus Botha didn’t have a ring of showbiz to it. So he gave his protégé a new identity – Dollar Brand.

He reasoned that a dollar was the world’s most powerful note and his charge was destined for bigger things in the US, a brand everyone wanted to experience its dream. Years later the protégé expressed his gratitude when he recorded Tintinyana, an evocative jazz tune dedicated to Mr Phahlane’s daughter, for Tintinyana was her name.

She grew up to become a fine lady and brilliant medical doctor but sadly she passed away in the prime of her life. He also lost his only son, Dr Michael Phahlane. The US-based psychiatrist was killed in a car crash in 1981. In 1983 he was diagnosed with amnesia and confined to Sterkfontein Hospital, a psychiatric institution for the mentally challenged as a state patient. One of his inmates was Dimitri Tsafendas.

When Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd was assassinated on 6 September 1966, Phahlane had quipped that Tsafendas had exterminated apartheid. The authorities never forgave him for that. His institutionalisation cost him enormously. He lost his Soweto house and other priceless belongings. It was reportedly auctioned off at the behest of a vengeful ex-father-in-law.

Since his discharge from the psychiatric institution, Ntatemoholo Phahlane, as the indomitable nanogenarian preferred to be referred to in his twilight years, has been struggling to get an RDP house. He initiatiated a series of correspondence with the former Gauteng premier, Mbhazima Shilowa and the Gauteng Department of Housing. His pleas fell on deaf ears.

By Sam Mathe

Sunday times last week 15 May – Sipho Hotstix Mabuse interview 50 years on

Sipho Hotstix Mabuse to celebrate Burnout with his show “Timelessness 50 years on” Wed 1 Oct Lyric Theatre

TIMELESSNESS 50 years on 

On Wednesday evening, 1 October, for one-night-only, one of South Africa’s, and indeed the world’s, most admired and respected musicians – Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse – is set to perform at The Lyric Theatre, Johannesburg, in a special, single performance, affair.

Titled Timelessness, a name coined by Mabuse, the show will  tip its hat to the masters, taking fans on musical journey filled with extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, performances.

2014 is a momentous year in Mabuse’s 50-year career immersion in music. Not only is it his golden anniversary of his unwavering commitment and contribution to South African music, it is 30 years ago his now 500 000 copy-selling single “Burn Out” changed the face of shape of Afro-pop and township jive like no other song or artist in pop music history.

Timelessness

From his first group, Harari, through to his stellar solo career that spans the better part of his adult life, Mabuse’s Lyric Theatre reveal is going to be jam-packed with so many hits and memories, beyond “Burn Out”, that “we might not be able to fit it in,” he jokes.

Beyond competent and hugely applauded, the magic this musician makes is practically impossible to pigeonhole. Drummer, flautist, alto flautist, pianist, saxophonist, kalimba player, timbale and African drummer, Mabuse’s raw ability and talent know no limit!

His name became synonymous with township jive nearly three decades ago, and today his live performances still present the master’s art as the stuff of legend.

As the musical ambassador for South Africa, performing in virtually every country in Africa and touring the US, England, France, Germany and Italy, amongst many more, Mabuse’s recorded and produced the likes of Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Ray Phiri and Sibongile Khumalo.

Head out to The Lyric Theatre, at Gold Reef City, and come celebrate the multiple anniversaries with his friends, peers and contemporaries. Expect tributes, tears and Timelessness aplenty as Sipho”Hotstix” Mabuse unpacks, retells and delights the night with songs that remain as perpetual as the master maker himself.

Tickets are available from Computicket.co.za or call: 0861 915 8000 or click on link below 

http://online.computicket.com/web/event/sipho_hotstix_mabuse_timelessness/846750980/referer:-highlights-index-0-1_1_19766141-0-grid-

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For more information contact:
Triple M Entertainment
Martin Myers
E-mail: martin@triplementertainment.co.za
Mobile: +27 83 448 4475

The REAL – South Africa on a Sunday afternoon Soweto Style!

The REAL - South Africa on a Sunday afternoon Soweto Style!

The REAL – South Africa on a Sunday afternoon Soweto Style!

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