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Jazz genius Zim Ngqawana dies at 52

South African musician Zim Ngqawana has died in the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital after suffering a stroke on Monday. He was 52.

Manager Ayanda Nhlapo said Ngqawana, who played the flute and saxophone, had been rehearsing at his home in Troyeville for a show at Wits on the weekend when he had the stroke.

He was taken to the hospital at about 3:30pm, but according to Nhlapo, the hospital’s CAT scan machine “broke”. He was scanned at about 11:15pm.

Nhlapo said Ngqawana had been placed on a ventilator on Tuesday and was told by doctors that the stroke had caused bleeding on the brain.

She said Ngqawana’s ventilator was switched off at about 10am on Tuesday.

Nhlapo said the musician would be buried in accordance with Islamic burial customs, which would take place within the next 24 hours.

“I think Zim was extremely insightful and he was very much aware of a lot of things that a lot of people seem not to want to acknowledge. We are consumed by our everyday lives and don’t deal with our inner selves. He focused on his inner self and through that experience he was able to realise a whole lot of issues. For me, being his manager for five years, I can say that he taught me so much.”

“He was saying to me yesterday that he didn’t think the jazz industry would come back to the way it was. He said it was the end of jazz.”

Ngqawana, in an interview with music writer Gwen Ansell in 1997, said he saw a strongly religious purpose to his playing.

“Music is still there when the sun goes down. It provides energy for a spiritually depleted universe.”

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