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Thursday, October 18, 2012


(Jazz musician Theo Bophela is presented with his award by Sibusiso Sithole, City Manager at Ethekwini Municipality)

With its prestigious Living Legends Awards, now in their fifth year, the eThekwini Municipality last month celebrated those who have made a major contribution to the city in their various fields.

“The fact that what began as an idea in the unassuming minds of a few people has grown in such leaps and bounds in a space of five years is an extraordinary stride for our beautiful City,” said Councillor James Nxumalo, the Mayor of eThekwini. “It is this power of an idea which is so aptly personified by the people whose works, contributions and sacrifices the eThekwini Living Legends Awards recognise and celebrate.”

This year’s impressive ceremony saw the 2012 recipients of the Living Legends Awards enter the splendidly-decorated ICC carrying a lantern on one side and holding the hand of a five-year old child on the other. The children were chosen specifically for their age to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the awards.

The procession moved towards the stage and, once each Living Legend awardee reached the stage, they symbolically handed their lantern to their accompanying child. In an extremely moving process, the child then walked up onto the stage, as if carrying forward the awardee’s energies and skills into the future.

Among the awardees was acclaimed jazz musician Theo Bophela who was immersed in a wide variety of musical genres from a very young age. After obtaining his senior certificate, a job at a radio repair workshop and exposure to jazz legends inspired him to take piano lessons and he has never looked back.

During his professional career, he worked with Tom Ndaba’s Swingsters Jazz Band, Chromatic Jazz Band, Keynotes Jazz Group, Theo Bophela Trios & Quartets Jazz Resurrection Orchestra, among others.

As a band leader, composer, pianist, arranger, music educator and director, he has performed in Athens, Holland, Australia and New Zealand and conducted Soweto Jive workshops in Alkmaar, Holland, with the late Sophie Mgcina and Timothy Ndaba. He has also written orchestral works for performance by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra with the Ngwelo Afrika Jazz Group.

He is an ex-member of Board of Directors for South African Recording Rights Association Limited (SARAL). When he is not sharing his wealth of musical knowledge, he is involved in fund-raising efforts at Masisizane Centre, a communal collective for senior citizens of Inanda. Today, Bophela continues to inspire young student performers and artists, passing on his passion for jazz and love of musicianship.

Other 2012 Living Legends in the arts were author Lauretta Ngcobo, visual artist Paul Sibisi and theatre personality and artSMart editor Caroline Smart.