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Legendary South African musician and activist, Johnny Clegg ‘White Zulu’ dies at 66

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Legendary South African musician and activist, Johnny Clegg dies at 66

Legendary South African musician and activist, Johnny Clegg, has died at the age of 66, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Known as the “white Zulu”,  he was one of the few white artists to openly confront the apartheid government in the late 1970.

The  Grammy-nominated British-born musician, who uniquely blended western and Zulu music, was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. He died peacefully at home in Johannesburg on Tuesday with his family, according to Clegg’s manager, Roddy Quin.

“Johnny leaves deep footprints in the hearts of every person that considers himself or herself to be an African,” Quinn told AFP.

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South Africa’s government paid tribute to Clegg’s achievements on Twitter, saying his music could “unite people across the races and bring them together as a community”.

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

His best known hit Asimbonanga, released in 1987, was dedicated to Nelson Mandela.

Meaning “We have not seen him” in Zulu, the song was one of the first to openly call for Mandela’s release.

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At the time, the future first black president of South Africa was still in jail and considered a threat to the apartheid state.

Clegg – a white man who learnt to speak and sing in Zulu – became a symbol of democratic South Africa and was chosen to sing at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in 2013.

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