Ndikho Xaba was born in 1934 in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, he was a multi-instrumentalist, music historian and philosopher. Ndikho Xaba passed away peacefully at his home in Durban, South Africa surrounded by family and friends on June 11, 2019 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Xaba was an actor, composer, and pianist; he also plays an array of Xaba’s journey took him across South Africa – from the streets of Pietermaritzburg in the province of KwaZulu-Natal to Queenstown in the Eastern Cape and the musical ferment of Johannesburg’s Dorkay House – all the way to Broadway, the jazz lofts of San Francisco, Chicago and New York, the training camps of the African National Congress in exile in Tanzania, the streets of post-liberation Soweto and, finally, back home again. musical instruments, both African and western – some of his own design and innovation, including variations of ancient instruments such as umakhoyane, ugubhu and others.Xaba continued teaching for the rest of his life. He established musical instrument-making facilities and created a music curriculum for the ANC’s refugee school in Dakawa, Tanzania. On his return to South Africa from exile in 1994, he held music and instrument-making classes at his Soweto home, before moving back to Durban.
Xaba created music described as spiritual, eclectic and ground-breaking. In 1970, as the leader of Ndikho Xaba & The Natives, a band based in San Francisco, California, Xaba released an inventive record of exceptional musicianship, seeped in the African and spiritual traditions of the jazz avant-garde. The album, titled Shwabada, was long considered the ‘holy grail’ among jazz record collectors. In 2015 it was re-issued by Matsuli Music, making it available to a new generation of listeners.