Eastern Cape’s jazz legend dies

Slo’ Foot King Brothers jazz band founder Samuel Tshiyembe, died on Friday last week at the Bhisho Hospital.

LASTING LEGACY: Samuel Tshiyembe, died on Friday at the Bhisho Hospital. He was the founding member of the Slo’ Foot King Brothers jazz band that was formed in 1953 Picture: SUPPLIED

His younger brother, Zolile Tshiyembe, said the day before 86-year-old Tshiyembe died they had sung some of the band’s songs, including his popular Ndiyathandaza.

“On the previous days that we had visited him his voice was not audible but on Thursday he could sing and he asked me to bring his guitar the next day. He gave me hope that he would come back home,” he said.

Zolile said he received the call about his brother’s death on Friday morning and he never got to bring him his guitar.

Zolile said his brother started getting sick last year February after the death of his wife.

“He did not accept his wife’s departure. He wouldn’t eat and would spend most of his time sleeping. We were all worried about him because he started getting weak,” he said.

Zolile said doctor’s examinations showed that his brother had no chronic illnesses. “The doctor could not find anything yet we could see he was deteriorating,” he said.

When he started getting sick, Tshiyembe decided to hang up his guitar after 50 years of performing.

The music bug bit Tshiyembe at an early age when he fell in love with playing the guitar, and decided to make one for himself using a five-litre container, a plank, strings and wooden plugs. He later joined the jazz band, African Melodies. In those days he backed musicians such as the Manhattan Brothers of Johannesburg and Dorothy Masuku. It was his experience with the Manhattan Brothers that greatly influenced Tshiyembe. On his return to King William’s Town in 1952, he formed the jazz band Slo’ Foot King Brothers in 1953.

The department of sport, recreation, arts and culture (DSRAC), jazz musicians from across the province and various stakeholders all bade farewell to Tshiyembe at a concert at the Guild Theatre last year when he decided to retire from music.

At the concert, MEC Pemmy Majodina presented Tshiyembe with a state-of-the-art guitar, a portrait of himself, framed lyrics of Ndiyathandaza, a piano, two monitors, a drum kit and an amplifier, valued at more than R100000.

Although he had decided to take a step back from the music arena, Tshiyembe told Daily Dispatch last year that he would check up on the group every now and then to see if they were doing things right. Zolile said Tshiyembe’s death had left the family shattered.

“This is a big tree that has fallen and everyone can feel it. We are grateful to the people who have come to console us during this time,” Zolile said. Among many people that visited the family over the weekend was Majodina.

Majodina said Tshiyembe was a music legend. “He has made a mark in the history of music in the Eastern Cape. He sustained jazz in the province, especially in King William’s Town. He kept the band motivated and united for more than 50 years and that is why we decided to honour him as a legend last year,” Majodina said.

Tshiyembe will be laid to rest on May 27 in Zwelitsha.

lGo to http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2014/11/08/video-still-all-that-jazz-at-age-of-84 for a video clip