Stimela Salutes: Ray's Mother Aged 113 Unaware of his Death

As the nation mourns Ray Phiri’s passing, his 113 year old mum still doesn’t know her son is dead - and efforts are being made for elders to notify her accordingly.

Meanwhile, even after the voice of Phiri has fallen silent, but Stimela will go on - the legendary band’s remaining members said they would make sure the late singer’s legacy lives on. 

Ray (70) died on Wednesday after a battle with lung cancer. There are few people who knew him better than his Stimela brothers.
Stimela Lineup 

Isaac “Mnca” Mtshali, Thapelo Khomo, Lloyd Lelosa, Jabu Sibumbo and Ntokozo Zungu are the remaining members of the internationally acclaimed group known for hit songs including Where Did We Go Wrong, Whispers In The Deep, Zwakala and I Hate Telling A Lie.

Daily Sun spoke to three of the remaining original members about their time with Ray. Drummer Isaac said: “We looked to each other for love and support, followed each other everywhere and never asked any questions.”

He said for him, their most memorable gig was in Bloemfontein last year. “It was just amazing. Everything about it was great. Performances rely on good sound and this one was on point.”

The emotional Isaac said they were trying to cope. “It’s God’s will and we have to set Ray free. We would like to thank our fans for their love and support through all these years. We are grateful,” he said.

Jabu, on bass, shared many years with Ray. The two were friends and industry colleagues, long before Stimela was formed.

“We were all like brothers but he and I began as rival dancers from different sections in Nelspruit. Then Ray came to join our dance group. He always dressed so well.” Both Jabu and Ray heeded music’s call and moved to Joburg in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Jabu was a session musician and Ray later led The Cannibals. The two decided to form Stimela in 1982. Their journey could fill up an entire book.

“We’ve lost another pillar but we’ll carry on with his legacy.” He said Ray left them with Sam Ndlovu whom he had been mentoring. “There is hope. Not all is lost.” Lead guitarist Ntokozo said he was trying his best to keep it together.

He shared with the People’s Paper that a couple of days before Ray died, he had unsettling dreams, first dreaming of being surrounded by lions. “They didn’t harm me, but there was one in particular that just stared at me.

“The second night I dreamt a black dog was attacking me. It wouldn’t stop biting no matter how hard I fought it off. Then we all heard of Ray’s passing.”

Stimela has been working on a new project, which they plan to release this year. Although Ray didn’t join them for the recording, he was coaching Sam, who leads the project on vocals.

I dreamt a black dog was attacking me. It wouldn’t stop biting no matter how hard I fought it off. Then we all heard of Ray’s passing. - Daily Sun

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