JOHANNESBURG - Kwaito musician Mduduzi Tshabalala, better known as Mandoza, has been hailed as a South African legend whose music appealed to people across racial lines.
Mandoza died on Sunday morning. He had been battling cancer for some time.
IN PICS: The life and times of Mandoza
Long-time collaborator and producer of his most commercially successful song, Nkalakatha, Gabi le Roux, described the day they composed the song.
"I was just messing around on my keyboard with that well-known riff. He came running in, he was in the garden, and he said to me, 'Bra Gab, this is big.' He immediately realised that that riff was catchy and he immediately had some vocals to put to that.
"We had the essence of the song ready in about two-and-a-half hours. We both believed that somehow it was divine intervention."
Rest in peace #Mandoza the guy who forever united the divided dance floor in one song: Nkalakatha. Salute.— Tumi Morake (@tumi_morake) September 18, 2016
Eugene Mthethwa, general secretary of the Creative Workers' Union, said: "He was a kwaito artist who brought two nations together, black and white, to dance together to Nkalakatha. There must be something about you to bring two nations together to dance to a kwaito song. I think that was special for me."
Le Roux described his working relationship with the musician, saying that Mandoza's output "fluctuated" over the years.
"There were times, like Nkalakatha, where it just came easy; there were other times when we were under pressure to perform from the record company, from media and from the fans. With that pressure also comes responsibilty, which sometimes distorts and dilutes the creative process," he said, while confirming that Mandoza was absolutely committed to his music.
"I would give him some music and it would take some time and then suddenly it would just start flowing. I was really honoured to be part of that."
President Jacob Zuma released a statement extending his deep sadness and condolences on the passing of Mandoza.
Former manager and friend Vaughan Eaton recounted the health difficulties leading up to the star's death.
"Recently he had lost his sight in both his eyes. When he performed in Soweto he was fully blind. He was suffering with headaches, terribly. I think it was very challenging to him and his family.
"He was such a strong person. Even last week when I met with him, he was so confident that everything would be well," Eaton recalled.
Mthethwa evoked imagery of a man who dealt with criticism and mockery with grace.
"My memories are of his respect for human beings, regardless of the attacks that he received over many, many years; some saying that he couldn't speak English and making jokes about him ... he never lost his cool; he never lost his respect for other people."
Mandoza was remembered as a family man by pop singer Danny K.
"I was struck by how different he was to the person that I'd seen on stage. He was very modest, very soft, very respectful and not the kind of big tsotsi gangster that he portrayed. He was a family man, just the sweetest, nicest human being you could ever meet." K said.
Le Roux similarly referred to Mandoza's devotion to his family and highlighted the support he received from his wife, Mpho Tshabala.
"I don't think anybody knows, in all of this devasting sadness, that it should happen on Mpho's birthday. For her, on her birthday, to lose her man is devastating."
"I want to bring honour to this woman, this young African woman, who is one of the strongest people I've seen in my life. Who has stood there with him through thick and thin where many others would've abandoned him, but gave him three beautiful children, loyal to the last," Le Roux said.
"I want to say to her, and I want to say to South Africa, as much asyou love Mandoza, give your tributes to the lady who stood not behind him: next to him, shoulder to shoulder, every step of the way."
Danny K set out what Mandoza meant to him and his family: "He was like a brother to me and like a son to my parents. When these icons leave us, we feel very mortal and very afraid."
The singer joined other South Africans in commemorating the life of Mandoza on social media, posting messages on his Twitter and Instagram pages.
At least once a day for the past 10 years I'm asked "Hey DK.. Where is Mandoza?". Today I'm heartbroken to know that I won't be asked that question ever again. My friend and SA music legend is gone. He was a true game changer that we all loved. It didn't matter if you were from Soweto, Sandton or Somerset West - Mandoza made you get down. There will never be another quite like him. I'll miss you dawg, thank you for the music and the memories we had together. Deepest condolences to Mpho and the family #Mandoza --
#RIPMandoza | We should arrange the world's biggest Nkalakatha line dance in his memory. A song that united all cultures.— Gїηα (@0pinion8d) September 18, 2016