Death of jazz musician Musa Manzini a blow to the industry

Published May 21, 2023


The South African jazz music fraternity has been dealt a heavy blow following the death of Musa Manzini this week, who has been described as a music sensation.

Manzini, 51, died at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg after suffering a seizure.

Manzini’s battle with ill health dates as far back as 2006, when he was admitted to hospital with a malignant tumour. In 2018, he was at the tip of everyone’s tongue for strumming his guitar while undergoing an awake craniotomy. The doctors wanted to monitor his finger movements following the six-hour operation.

In 2021, Manzini contracted Covid-19. This came shortly after he had undergone his fifth surgery to remove the tumour in his head.

The revered musician, born in Inanda, Durban, was known for his exceptional bass-playing skills. His love for music was discovered after he moved to Cape Town to pursue his high school and university education.

Manzini went on to harness his music-playing skills at UCT where he later received the Professor Peter Klatzow Award for composition and orchestration. He obtained a Bachelor of Music degree from UCT and later a Master of Arts in Film and Television from Wits University.

The music maestro also dabbled in the television scene as a musical director in the soapie “Backstage” at the studios in Cape Town.

He graced fans with a number of music offerings and albums, including “My Bass”, “Tributes & Memories”, “New Reflections”, “Simply Life” and “Best of Musa Manzini”.

He also worked with the music industry’s heavyweights, including Selaelo Selota, Jonathan Butler and Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, among others.

Manzini shared his music talents on international stages as well, including culture festivals in New Orleans as well as many other jazz club performances, functions and musician workshops and university masterclasses.

Sibusiso Tshabalala, a former colleague and friend of Manzini, said he was devastated by Manzini’s passing as he had seen him live through the pain over time.

“Musa was like a brother to me. He was an amazing musician and a genius. I have known and worked with Musa Manzini as his manager from 2007. He was a humble human being and he respected everyone equally.”

He said he wished people would remember Manzini for his sense of humour, music composition and his love for life, and encouraged people to continue playing Manzini’s music and also support other musicians, particularly the jazz musicians in South Africa.

Pops Mohamed, an all-rounder jazz musician and producer, expressed his devastation at Manzini’s death, saying they had become close in the past couple of months, going as far as planning to put an album together when his health would allow.

“About three weeks ago, we were going to plan going to a music festival in Morocco, not to perform, but just for fun, if his health would allow him as well. I’m going to miss my brother very badly… big time. My innermost deepest condolences to his family, his closest friends and mostly Palesa Mazamisa, who stood by him right to the end. May his beautiful soul rest in everlasting and eternal peace. Amen,” said Mohamed.

Manzini’s funeral was held yesterday in Richards Bay.