Few people come into the world and make it more whole, leaving behind a huge gaping hole when they go. Johnny Clegg was one of those people. The musician touched the hearts of everyone he met, and although he is gone, his legacy of making our country a better place and spreading joy remains.

Johnny was born in Bacup, Lancashire England in 1953 to an English father and Zimbabwean mother, from the start he was different and was never afraid to stand out.

Here are just a few of the amazing things Johnny brought to the world, South Africa in particular, during his life that we will be forever grateful for.

1. Unity

Known as the “White Zulu”, Johnny continually proved to the world and especially South Africans that we are one.

In the days of Apartheid he would often get himself into trouble when he came together with likeminded people of different ethnicities to play music and be merry.

If there’s one thing Johnny taught us, it’s that we should love our fellow human beings no matter their race, religion or circumstances.

2. His music

It goes without saying that Johnny was a legendary musician that few could measure up to.

His music became an iconic sound of the nation and instantly lifted your spirits whenever you listened to it.

There’s not a second of his performances or recorded works that are not sung and played with the utmost passion that is enough to bring you to tears.

3. His dance moves

No man could deliver as enthusiastic or high a kick as Johnny Clegg.

His signature dance moves uplifted and excited audiences around the world – you simply couldn’t watch him dance and just stay still.

He had a dance sense unlike any other and a groovy style that made you want to get up and join him.

4. Love

Over his career and his life, Johnny brought love to the hearts of many.

From his family to his fans, fellow musicians and every human that crossed his path.

He was an unconditionally loving person who didn’t ever need a reason to be kind or caring.

5. Passion

Even while battling cancer Johnny never gave up on his dreams and his passion never faltered.

Although he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015 he kept on performing for four years.

He travelled the world and played his music for massive crowds on what he knew was his last tour.

He may not be with us anymore, but the legend and the legacy of Johnny Clegg will live on for generations to come, and continue inspiring people to reach for their dreams, to love one another, to dance, to sing, and to enjoy life while they can.

If we all tried to be a little more like Johnny Clegg the world would be a better place.

Hamba kahle, Johnny.

If you’d like to donate to the Friends of Johnny Clegg foundation, you can do so here.

Pictures: Facebook/Johnny Clegg

Article written by


We love this place! Cape Town Etc features news, reviews, entertainment and lifestyle in the Mother City.