It with profound sadness that the African National Congress has learnt of the passing of music luminary and trailblazer Ray Chikapa Phiri. The African National Congress sends its heartfelt condolences to the Phiri family and the music industry on the loss of so colossal an icon in the industry and our country at large.
Ray Phiri was a voice for the voiceless and a legend of our time. An immensely gifted composer, vocalist and guitarist, he breathed consciousness and agitated thoughts of freedom through his music. Through Whispers in the Deep, amongst his many works, Phiri, his band Stimela and his friends, Nana Coyote, amongst others, taught us to forever remain inspired and never understand hate. They spoke of knowledge and pain, necessary preconditions to develop a single nation of love, formed from us – the “tributaries to the great river of of pain”.
Phiri was also a global ambassador of the hopes of a new South Africa and a committed activist to our nation’s vision of fundamental change. For his efforts he was awarded the Presidential Order of Ikhamanga by the President of the Republic, Comrade Jacob Zuma for his “successful use of the arts as an instrument of social transformation”
While Ray Phiri may be gone, his music lives on. He has played his role in unearthing and support new talent in the industry and has been an ardent and vocal advocate of the call for greater investment in local content development and the development of the industry as a whole.
The indelible contribution Ray Phiri has made to the tapestry that is South African arts and culture will never be forgotten. May his life’s work forever remain an inspiration to generations of artists who would emulate his example of using the arts to effect change and inspire hope amongst his people.
It is by us carrying forward his legacy that Ray Phiri will never die. We have no doubt that as we commit ourselves to realize his life’s dream of a transformed industry we will forever hear his unmistakable voice urging us on “khawuphinde, khawuphinde mzala”
Issued by the African National Congress