Raymond Chikapa Enock Phiri (23 March 1947 – 12 July 2017)

South African musical giant, and struggle activist, Ray Phiri, has passed away from lung cancer at the age of 70.

Phiri, who achieved international fame through his work with Paul Simon, started his career as a professional musician in the late 1960s when he joined the band, The Five Boys. More famously Phiri was the lead member of Stimela (originally The Cannibals), an Afro-fusion band with a social conscience – many of Stimela’s songs focused on issues facing South Africans during the apartheid era. Whispers in the Deep, from the album, Look, Listen and Decide (1986) was a call for people to speak out against what was happening in the country at the time, and was consequently banned by the South African government.

Over the course of his 50 year career, Phiri was the recipient of a number of accolades, including the Order of Ikhamanga granted to him by President Jacob Zuma, and a Lifetime Achievement Award Phiri received at the 2012 SAMAs. In an interview posted by Eye Witness News, Phiri says of the award, “It’s like they’re saying to me, ‘Hey, come here, take a bow, and get out of here’, but I’m not going to get out, I’ll always remain in people’s heads, minds, hearts, souls and spirits”.

Rest in peace bra Ray. Gone, but not forgotten.

Image courtesy of gq.co.za

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