South African jazz and opera singer Sibongile Khumalo has died at the age of 63. The death comes after the international performer reportedly suffered a stroke which culminated in a long battle with illness. Khumalo is said to have succumbed to stroke-related complications this past Thursday. The award-winning artist was known to dominate both local and international stages with her powerful voice. Condolences and tributes have been pouring in from President Cyril Ramaphosa and South Africans across all social media platforms.
According to News24, Khumalo’s family released a public statement confirming the death of MaMn’goma, the name by which she was affectionately known. “She will be missed by all who had the privilege of experiencing her music, her friendship and her love,” her family stated. President Ramaphosa’s tribute remarked on Khumalo’s significance in South Africa’s history and cited her landmark performances at the late Nelson Mandela‘s 75th birthday and 1994 inauguration. Khumalo was loved by Mandela who called her the “First Lady of Song”. She became one of South Africa’s post-Apartheid music icons and sang the country’s national anthem at the historic 1995 Rugby World Cup final, as reported by IOL.
Khumalo’s illustrious career began as a young child and picked up in 1993 when she won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award at the Grahamstown Arts Festival. After decades of career success, she received the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver in 2008, awarded by the South African presidency and recognising the significant work of the singer in arts and culture. The news of the her death comes just days after the death of jazz veteran Jonas Gwangwa.