The Patron, board and staff members of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation are deeply saddened at the passing of one of our country’s distinguished cultural workers, the musician Thandi Klaasen.
The country and the rest of the world will forever be grateful for her outstanding contribution to music more generally and the genre of jazz in particular. Her music served to entertain, to arouse the human spirit into action and to keep hope alive during and after the struggle for the liberation of our country. To this end, Ms Klaasen gave her life in the service of her countrywomen and men as well as the rest of humanity.
In recognition of a life so well lived, her country could not but bestow the Order of the Baobab in gold for “excellent achievement in and contribution to the art of Music” in 2006.
Ms Klaasen’s sad passing also constitutes the uncomfortable reality of a dying era represented by the slow departure of the heroic women and men who can justly be described as the midwives of our liberation. We are once again reminded of the often cited and all-time relevant words of one of Ms Klaasen’s contemporary, the celebrated Martiniquan revolutionary, Frantz Fanon: “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”
Ms Klaasen fulfilled the mission of her generation and thus contributed to the advancement of her people as a whole. The pressing challenges of contemporary South Africa oblige the younger generations of cultural workers to do no less.
Issued by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation
January 17, 2017.