The provincial department of culture, sport and recreation has expressed sadness at the death of afro-fusion jazz musician Ray Phiri.
Phiri died at a private clinic in Mbombela in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a long battle with lung cancer.
In an interview with The New Age yesterday, culture, sport and recreation provincial spokesperson Sibongile Nkosi said Phiri’s death was not only a great loss to his family and the music fraternity but also a blow to the department and the Mpumalanga province.
Nkosi said Phiri’s contribution in arts to the province would remain a legacy as he worked closely with the department because of his remarkable talent although he was most of the time unleashing his talent in Gauteng.
She said Phiri died a few hours after interacting with the culture, sport and recreation MEC Norah Mahlangu during her visit to the private clinic on Tuesday night.
“We were saddened by the news of the passing on of the legendary musician and our local citizen who contributed immensely to his province through his talent in arts despite the fact that he was based in Gauteng.
“On behalf of the province and its citizens at large, the culture, sport and recreation department would like to convey its deepest condolences to the grieving family and the music fraternity. His abilities and team working spirit will remain with us,” Nkosi said.
She said Phiri once served as the chairperson of the Mpumalanga Arts and Culture Council.
The government said he would be afforded a provincial funeral service. A memorial service is scheduled to be held in Nelspruit tomorrow.