My uncle uMalum’Thabani introduced me to Stimela music. He would bring out his Technics Hi-Fi and he and Malum’Musa would play chess or have lengthy facial shaving sessions from the ‘basin-on-a-chair’ outside, with Stimela playing in the background. Malum’Musa would be under the bonnet of his Ford XR3, sending me for spanners, with Stimela playing in the background.
Four years ago, someone who knew I love Stimela so much, took a pic with Oom Ray for me.
When I started working on Sithakela Isizwe in 2012 the second interview of that show, was with Oom’Ray – it wasn’t a work interview for me, it was my childhood. It was my memories with my uncles. It was my memories of KwaMadlala. I was shaking with excitement and sheer happiness.
At the end of May, he was set to perform in Durban and I was so disappointed that I couldn’t go to the performance because of a family commitment.
We interviewed Oom’Ray that week and I commented to the show producer that he wasn’t as bubbly as he usually is. Last week one of the producers told me that he was very ill but we had just just spoken to him.
The drums on the live version of Phinda Mzala. The memories of my uncle Thabani and I singing ‘sondela nganeno, come to me, zwakala…’ Malum’Thabani saying ‘uyabona Mshanam, iStimela, weeee, weeee, weeeee!’ One of my uncles singing along and looking at me saying ‘Awu shani shani kaMalume!’ as I joined in the singing / dancing to one of the steam tracks.
I never write about people passing. But Oom’Ray is my uncles, three men that I love and who taught me so much and who love me so much.
Oom’Ray is my memories of my rural roots KwaMadlala, of us blasting that music with no fear of neighbours complaining because the nearest neighbour was a kilometer away.
Oom’Ray is my memories of MaSangweni who would more often than not, be playing solitaire while his music played.
Oom’Ray interviews were interviews that were for me. Not the station, not the listeners but for me.
Music is magic. Music transports, music transcends, music births, music heals. Stimela’s music transported me, always and without fail to my childhood, to people who mean the galaxy to me.
Lala ngoxolo Oom’Ray. You gave me more than just music.