Remembering a legend, the ‘white Zulu’: Johnny Clegg

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Turn the volume up.

Listen to Impi again. Listen to Asimbonanga. Listen to the Great Heart. Listen to Scatterlings of Africa.

Feel it: the rhythm, the beat, the heart, the soul, the message, the voice of transition in South Africa.

Feel Africa.

And if your emotions get the best of you, that’s okay. Feel everything, feel it all, because in the words of Johnny Clegg, “It’s a cruel, crazy, beautiful world.”

And bloody hell he was right. Right now, it is cruel, crazy and beautiful; all at the same time. 

There’s a highway of stars across the heavens
The whispering song of the wind in the grass
There’s the rolling thunder across the savanna
A hope and dream at the edge of the sky
And your life is a story like the wind
Your life is a story like the wind.
– Johnny Clegg, Great Heart.

Johnny Clegg

After a long battle with cancer, South African music legend, Johnny Clegg, passed away on the 16th of July 2019 at his family home in Johannesburg.

Clegg was born in England but moved to Zimbabwe where he lived until the age of seven, soon after he immigrated with his mother (originally from Zimbabwe) to South Africa and became exposed to township life when he joined his stepfather, who was a crime reporter, on assignment. It was during these years that Clegg was introduced to Zulu street guitar music and met Sipho Mchunu with whom he formed the band Juluka (translation: Sweat) and they brought a blend of traditional Zulu and pop music to the ears of the world, which were of course censored during Apartheid. Johnny Clegg later formed another racially mixed band, Savuka (translation: We Have Risen), and from 1993 he pursued a solo career, still celebrating Zulu culture and with 20 albums in total behind his name, his career spanned over four decades. 

Clegg was survived by his wife of 31 years, Jenny, and their sons Jesse and Jaron.

O Siyeza, o siyeza , sizofika webaba noma
(we are coming, we are coming, we will arrive soon)
O siyeza, o siyeza, siyagudle lomhlaba
(we are coming, we are coming, we are moving across this earth)
Siyawela lapheshaya lulezontaba ezimnyama
(we are crossing over those dark mountains)
Lapha sobheka phansi konke ukhulupheka
(where we will lay down our troubles)
Take me now, don’t let go
Hold me close, I’m coming home

Hamba kahle, Johnny Clegg, hamba kahle.

Remembering the ‘white Zulu’: Johnny Clegg

Turn the volume up and feel these legendary hits with all your heart.

Asimbonanga – 1999 – Johnny Clegg with former South African president, Nelson Mandela.

Johnny Clegg (With Nelson Mandela) – Asimbonanga – 1999 Fran

Lors d’un concert de Johnny Clegg, interprétant “asimbonangua” arrivée de Nelson Mandela.

Scatterlings of Africa – Johnny Clegg.

Johnny Clegg Scaterlings Of Africa

No Description

Impi – Johnny Clegg and Juluka, live in Cape Town.

Impi – Juluka (Live in CapeTown)

Filmed at Good Hope Centre1983

Johnny Clegg – I’ve Been Looking ft Jessy Clegg.

Johnny Clegg – I’ve Been Looking ft. Jesse Clegg

Music video by Johnny Clegg performing I’ve Been Looking. © 2018 Oceanbeat (Pty) Ltd, under exclusive license to Universal Music (Pty) Ltd (ZA) http://vevo.ly/97Pj0V

The Crossing – Friends of Johnny Clegg

THE CROSSING – Friends of Johnny Clegg

http://www.friendsofjohnnyclegg.com – In 2018 a group of well-known musicians came together to celebrate the life and work of Johnny Clegg and recorded a special version of his song – THE CROSSING. All proceeds will go to the ‘Friends of Johnny Clegg Fund’ for primary education.