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June 22, 2004

Ben Shabalala, a longtime member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, was shot and killed in unknown circumstances, the group's record company has said. He was in his late 40s. Shabalala, whose brother Joseph founded and still leads the group, was killed on June 16 in Durban. The police have not identified a suspect. Mr. Shabalala sang alto in the 10-member group from the late 1970's to 1993, when he left to start his own business. Ben Shabalala is survived by his wife and four children.

"Ben was not just my brother, but is a part of my history," Joseph Shabalala said in a statement. "He is a part of Ladysmith Black Mambazo's legacy. While his life has ended in this terrible way, his voice, his memory and his spirit will continue on with Ladysmith Black Mambazo." A funeral is planned for Saturday in Durban.

The Shabalala clan has had a lot of tragedy in their lives in recent years and this quote from a recent article in The Village Voice explains further:-

"Joseph Shabalala's genius is no reason to elevate him into a feel-good saint. His history is that of a taskmaster and patriarch, and his emotional resources far exceed the antimodern, apolitical positivity he preaches, not to mention Western comprehension. Shabalala's quietism remained resolute in 1991, after his brother Headman died in a roadside shooting by a white security guard. And it sustained again when, in May 2002, as this relentlessly positive album was being recorded, his wife of 30 years, Nellie, was shot and killed, and he himself injured, outside their home. A month later, Joseph's son and Nellie's stepson Nkosinathi was accused of hiring the assassin in what police claimed was a funding dispute between Nellie's group, Women of Mambazo, and Nkosinathi's, White Mambazo, now known as Junior Mambazo. Six months later, Joseph married a woman he'd just met. Last September Nkosinathi's trial was suspended after a witness disappeared."

Posted by acapnews at June 22, 2004 10:08 PM

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