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TRIBUTE TO JABU KHANYILE (article first published : 2006-12-25)

Neil Comfort, co-owner of the Rainbow Jazz Restaurant pays his last respects to the acclaimed musician, Jabu Khanyile.

"I was first educated in the music of Jabu Khanyile and Bayete by Busi Mhlongo back in 1993. The first time I worked with Jabu Khanyile and Bayete was in 1996 as part of the team producing the now defunct Rainbat events.

Over the next nine years I was privileged to be part of the production of around a dozen performances by him in Durban at venues as diverse as the BAT Hall, Upstage and the Rainbow Restaurant.

The last time was in March 2005 when, in partnership with Chris Ntuli of Durban Black Drifters Productions, we presented him at the Rainbow Restaurant in Pinetown. Sadly, Khanyile lost his battle against prostate cancer some months ago.

Through all of those performances the things that will stick with me for the rest of my life: his soaring voice; his nurturing of new talent; his pride in being an African; his ready smile; his friendship and openness to those he worked with and to his fans.

If I look back on the last 14 years that I have worked in the local live music scene, from those early days of sitting on Busi Mhlongo's floor being introduced to the sounds of South Africa and Africa, the sounds that, for a "whitey" like me, had been on "other" airwaves before; I would have to say that four names stick out.

Four names that defined the road that ultimately led me to taking up the challenge of owning and running the Rainbow Restaurant with my wife Nicola in 2001 with such pride and respect for all that I had previously witnessed there from those four names.

Busi Mhlongo, Sipho Gumede, Jabu Khanyile and Winston "Mankunku" Ngozi.

Gumede succumbed to cancer in 2004. We recently lost Khanyile. Around the same time, Mhlongo had a mastectomy. Forgive me if I am a little blue for I am mourning. Forgive me if I am a bit withdrawn for I am praying. Excuse me from attending any shows, as I need a time out. Neil Comfort




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