Tribute to Johnny Clegg – Doctor of Music (honoris causa)

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A Giant has Fallen!

It is with sadness that we received the news of the passing of world-renowned music legend Dr Johnny Clegg. A true son of Africa who in his youth and under a repressive government dared to flout the laws preventing the mixing of races and go on to create an entirely new genre of music. His brand of cross-over music entertained generations of South Africans across the racial and cultural divide.

In recognition of Johnny Clegg’s outstanding contribution to the music industry, the University of KwaZulu-Natal awarded him its highest honour, Doctor of Music (honoris causa) in April 2013. In his acceptance speech he regaled the audience with the stories of his life’s journey through music. See video clip below:

Speaking during the UKZN graduation ceremony, Johnny Clegg said, “if there is continuity in the work that I have done, it is this underlying idea of crossing boundaries and mixing competing approaches. It forms the background and influence of crossing over of musical forms in most of the music I have composed. It is an attitude and approach to culture, being a cultural handyman, fixing and changing the world with anything you have at hand which gives meaning and life to what I do.” And certainly, it has been his life’s work. The multi-talented singer, composer and dancer remained deeply connected to Africa.

On behalf of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, I extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the multitude of fans across the world.

Issued by:

Professor Nana Poku
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of KwaZulu-Natal