GQ Man Of The Year 2021: The Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Lifetime Achievement Award – Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse

GQ Man Of The Year 2021: The Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Lifetime Achievement Award – Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse
GQ Man Of The Year 2021: The Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Lifetime Achievement Award – Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse

Introducing GQ’s Men of The Year 2021

GQ South Africa | November 27, 2021

The third annual GQ Men of the Year Awards in association with Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège took place at the Four Seasons Hotel, The Westcliff in Johannesburg.

Affectionately known as “MOTY”, the prestigious awards ceremony recognises pioneers within the country who shape our cultural landscape and continue to push the boundaries. From artists to humanitarians, innovators to designers, comedians and entrepreneurs, GQ South Africa and Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège, celebrated the best talent from South Africa and Africa.

“I can safely say that in the 22 years we’ve been around as GQ, 2021 Men of the Year shows how diverse we are, not only as a brand and who we showcase and celebrate but also how diverse the people who shape our culture are. Everyone we acknowledged today epitomises excellence and inspiration. We’re truly honoured to have been able to do this for the third year in a row,” said GQ Editor-in-Chief Molife Kumona.

The Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Lifetime Achievement Award – Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse

The show was hosted by GQ Editor in Chief and Claire Mawisa and included performances by the likes of Siki Jo-An, Sauti Sol and the third recipient of the Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Lifetime Achievement award, Sipho ‘Hotstix” Mabuse himself.

One of South Africa’s (and the world’s) most admired and respected musicians, Mabuse is a performance great with an incredible catalogue of original music anchored in Africa from the last three decades. A pioneer within his industry, his impact on the South African music scene cannot be overstated. From the founding of the legendary Kippies nightclub in the heart of Newtown – named one of the world’s 100 greatest jazz clubs by Downbeat magazine – to releasing nine albums, including ‘Burn Out’, which remains one of South Africa’s most cherished tracks to date, Mabuse changed the tune of township funk. The living legend has amassed a considerable trophy cabinet, including the Silver Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to music.

Stef Kondylis, Market Manager of Moët Hennessy, South Africa, says, “We are honoured to present this prestigious award to Sipho Mabuse. A celebrated musician, Mabuse is an exceptional individual who has shaped the country’s musical identity. Still involved in performance arts to this day, he continues to contribute to the cultural development of many young musicians in the country.”

“Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège has been celebrating the pioneers, the game-changers, the movers, shakers and change-makers for over 200 years. The Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Lifetime Achievement Award and our association with GQ Men of the Year is a way to honour these committed and dedicated South Africans who remain true to Hennessy’s ethos of Never Stop. Never Settle,” concludes Kondylis.

Sipho Hotstix Mabuse: a South African legend whose music spans generations | The Conversation

By Gwen Ansell, The Conversation, 3 November 2021

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse has his photo taken by fellow musician Nhlanhla Mafu, in 2021. Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Drummer, saxophonist, composer, activist – and anthropology student – Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse has turned 70. If you wanted a guidebook to the distinctive character of the South African jazz scene, Mabuse’s 50-year career offers one.

South African jazz occupies a landscape that is rarely elitist, never haughtily insulated from popular and traditional sounds. Professional survival demands a multiplicity of roles and identities from its artists. And the music has always had something to say about the politics of its day, then and now.

Mabuse’s remarkable life shows us all that and more.

Sipho Cecil Peter Mabuse was born in Orlando West, a township in the heart of Soweto, Johannesburg’s historically black urban settlement. His father ran a small corner shop selling household supplies including coal, though he was, the drummer recalled, never really committed to the entrepreneurial life.

But, like many of his neighbours, he was committed to resisting the oppressions of apartheid. During the 1960 anti-pass campaign, the young Sipho held his father’s hand

marching alongside Nelson MandelaHenry Makgothi, other leaders, in Orlando West. I was just a little impressionable kid, but I’m carrying those memories with me…

Part of Soweto’s hunger for change was an appreciation for music, and especially jazz and the more conscious American soul artists. “Nina Simone blew me away,” Mabuse recalled.

Playing drums in a youth band was fine as a hobby. But music as a career? That was initially unthinkable in the Mabuse household: the young Sipho must study for university.


Things changed when some boys from another school joined Orlando West High for their final exams. Guitarists Selby Ntuli and Alec Khaoli were already creating original music and aspiring to emulate what were called the “township soul” bands of the late 1960s, who borrowed their sartorial style from Stax and Motown, identified their own experiences of oppression with the mood of US Black Power, and crafted lyrics in all African languages spoken on the streets.

Township soul was highly political in its proud self-assertion of identity even when its songs ran the gamut from teenage love to community hopes and fears.

A musician performs into a microphone, his hands up and fingers splayed, a saxophone around his neck.
Mabuse in 2017. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The school principal encouraged his students to perform to raise scholarship money, and the young Mabuse offered his services as a drummer. Another teenage musician, Monty Ndimande, joined. Their early forays into more professional arenas such as community halls were disastrous. But solid rehearsal and sponsorship from a successful local boxer meant the band (which called itself The Beaters in deliberate echo of four equally musical Liverpool youngsters The Beatles) soon had a dedicated following.

Little did we realise there would be such a demand. Some of the other bands were older, but because we were a high-school band, students from all the high schools identified with us. The money just started rolling in…

That led to recordings and, eventually, a decision to quit school and become professional musicians.

Identity shift

The youngsters started touring neighbouring African states and opening for visiting overseas artists. As fast as the money rolled in, they spent it. Mabuse reflected:

We were well dressed … We bought some of the most expensive clothes … If I had known about money what I know now, things would’ve been different.

A 1975 stay in neighbouring Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) as that country’s independence struggle intensified was seminal in reshaping the band’s identity and discourse. Mabuse recalled:

A groundswell of Black Consciousness influence was pervasive. In Harari we rediscovered our African-ness, the infectious rhythms and music of the continent. We came back home inspired! We were overhauling ourselves into dashiki-clad musicians who were Black Power saluting and so on.

On their return to South Africa:

Whether you played mbaqanga or not, everybody became proud of who they were: {believing} the type of music that we do must relate to the politics of the day … the music must derive from our environment.

Their subsequent album, Harari, recorded for the country’s only independent black record label, As-Shams, soon gave its title to a re-named band. The studio stable brought them into contact with older, more serious jazzmen.

Hornmen like trumpeter Dennis Mpale played on Harari; South Africa’s top saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi used Mabuse and Khaoli on his own crossover recording: Tshona.

Kippie looked at us very suspiciously at first. After all, we were just laaities – kids – from a pop band. We were quite in awe too. But after we all played, he came over, smiling, to congratulate us … The only way we could prove ourselves was to play jazz – even if on most stages we played pop music.

Harari became a runaway hit, followed by the next LP, Rufaro (Happiness). By 1976, Harari was voted South Africa’s top instrumental group. But in the political turmoil that followed the June 16 Soweto uprising, the band also helped the struggle, smuggling fleeing rebels to neighbouring states as they toured.

Harari in 1985.

After the sudden death of Selby Ntuli in 1978, Mabuse became leader of an outfit whose membership now changed often.

By 1980 Harari had garnered more awards, topped more charts, and become the first black band to headline Johannesburg’s Colosseum theatre. But tensions within the outfit were growing. By 1982, Harari had broken up.

Going solo

Mabuse became a solo artist, continuing to create impressive chart-toppers such as Burn Out and Jive Soweto. He increasingly used his showbiz travels and identity to hide the work of carrying communications and intelligence in and out of the country for the underground struggle of the banned African National Congress.

Album cover with the words 'Burn Out' and an image of a man with a short Afro and shades in a leather jacket against a zinc metal background.
A hit in 1987. Gallo Record Company

At the dawn of change in South Africa, his 1989 Chant of the Marching memorialised the heady, tragic events of June 1976.

By then Mabuse was using his earnings more sensibly, supporting older family and buying his mother a house.

By the 1990s, as apartheid ended, he was active in organising artists and advising on cultural matters, though shunning formal political roles.

Then another ambition – on the back burner since The Beaters made it big – was revived. Mabuse went back to high school, passed his exams and signed up for an undergraduate degree in anthropology.

He still performs – in revival shows featuring his pop hits and in jazz contexts. In 2018, he was one of the founding artists of The Liberation Project, with percussionist Dan Chiorboli, singer Roger Lucey, guitarist and producer Phil Manzanera and a cross-national cast of dozens.

That revisioned resistance music from South African, Italian anti-fascist resistance, Cuban and other struggles, releasing a double album and touring the world.

Elder statesman

Now an elder statesman of South African music, regularly invited onto industry panels, Mabuse hasn’t given up the political convictions that motivated him back in the 1970s. Music, he knows, still matters off as well as on the stage.

Talking about The Liberation Project back in 2018, he reflected:

Most of what we’ve done since 1994 has been done badly. There’s poverty, corruption and leaders do not listen. But if we remain fearful, we’ll stay subject to those in power. We have strength in numbers, and in our convictions, and music can remind us and reawaken that.

Music legend ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse celebrates 70th birthday in style | SowetanLive

Star reflects on high notes, lessons of his career


Music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse celebrates his 70th birthday at 1947 On Vilakazi, in Soweto.

Music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse celebrated his 70th birthday in style at the plush 1947 on Vilakazi Street restaurant in Soweto yesterday. 

The intimate celebration included Mabuse’s close friends and relatives, record label associates as well as celebrity guests like radio maestro Wilson B Nkosi. There was even a special birthday shoutout from sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa. 

Mabuse beamed with joy as he reflected on the wonderful memories that he created with his guests.  

From touring the world with his band Harari during apartheid to sharing the stage with big names such as Stevie Wonder, Mabuse said he has lived a life he never imagined.

Mabuse told S Mag that age should not define a person.  

“I don’t feel that I am 70 years old. I hear the age being told to me but I don’t feel anything like 70. Maybe it’s because I don’t know what being 70 should feel like,” Mabuse said.

“To me, age is just a number because growth happens on a daily basis. It was only when the idea for a birthday celebration came that I thought to myself that oh, I am 70 years old.

Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse celebrates his 70th birthday at 1947 On Vilakazi in Soweto with close family and friends in attendance.
Alon Skuy
Music icon Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse at his 70th birthday.
Alon Skuy

“My manager also mentioned that because I am 70, we needed to throw a celebration. We first celebrated in Cape Town two weeks ago… we were celebrating what I have contributed to the music industry.”

With a career spanning more than 50 years and a catalogue of nostalgic hits like Burn Out, Mabuse holds that he still has a lot more to contribute to the music industry.  

He recalled one of his most memorable career moments when he first started as a drummer with the soul group The Beaters (later renamed Harari) – a name derived from his greatest inspiration, The Beatles in the 1970s.

“I was in high school when my group and I toured Zimbabwe. We modelled ourselves as The Beaters and for the first time, a South African band was being signed with an international record company. I’ve also had three signings with different record companies – those, for me, are some of the greater milestones in my career,” Mabuse said. 

Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse turned 70 yesterday.
Image: Alon Skuy

Another memorable moment was sharing a stage with Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.

“I mean, what can one ask for if you’ve lived a life that I have. It’s been an amazing career,” Mabuse gushed.

With the many lessons he has learnt along his journey, Mabuse mentioned that the most valuable was to never neglect one’s responsibilities.

“Sometimes we get so caught up in what we do that we forget that we have more responsibilities to other people than ourselves,” Mabuse said.

“If there would’ve been a better way of reaching out and raising my children, that would’ve been one of the things I would’ve done differently but I guess with what I was doing as a musician I became so oblivious of those responsibilities. However, I am glad I have great relationships with my children.”ADVERTISING

Mabuse added that he wanted to be remembered for having contributed to people’s lives musically and how his music made them feel.

“I was very young when Nelson Mandela went to prison. I was a part of a group of children who accompanied their parents when passes were being burnt,” Mabuse said.

“I was still here when Mandela came out of prison and I was able to vote. I was still here to say to Mandela thank you and farewell, including Mama Winnie and many more. That, for me, is a blessing on its own.”    

IN PICS | Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse celebrates 70th birthday in style with close friends, family | Timeslive

Jazz icon Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse was as stylish as always at his 70th birthday celebration at 1947 On Vilakazi Street in Soweto on Tuesday.
Image: Alon Skuy

SA jazz legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse celebrated his 70th birthday in style at 1947 On Vilakazi Street in Soweto on Tuesday. 

Close friends and family joined Mabuse for the intimate birthday celebration at the stylish restaurant in the heart of Soweto.

The 70 year-old looked stylish as always in a navy blue suit, and was all smiles while enjoying everyone’s company. 

Mabuse’s music career kicked off in the mid-1970s when he was a member of the Beaters Afro-soul band and he toured Zimbabwe.

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse celebrated his 70th birthday with close family and friends.
Image: Alon Skuy
Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse with former SA military commander and politician Siphiwe Nyanda.
Image: Alon Skuy
Jazz icon Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse enjoying a moment of silence.
Image: Alon Skuy
Jazz legend Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse was all smiles when he celebrated his 70th birthday in Soweto.
Image: Alon Skuy
Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse with photographer Siphiwe Mhlambi during the birthday celebration for the jazz legend on Tuesday.
Image: Alon Skuy
Man of the moment Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse at his 70th birthday celebration at 1947 On Vilakazi Street in Soweto on Tuesday.
Image: Alon Skuy

After the Zimbabwe tour the group changed its name to Harari and Mabuse was lead singer. 

The legend has worked with a long list of musicians who are equally accomplished, including the late songbird Miriam Makeba, late African jazz legends Hugh Masekela and Ray Phiri and the late songstress Sibongile Khumalo.

He has kept South Africans dancing to some of his most popular songs such as Burn Out, which has sold more than 500,000 copies. 

Sipho Hotstix Mabuse shares seven memorable moments for his 70th birthday | Drum


Qhama Dayile

Jazz icon Sipho Hotstix Mabuse says living to see his grandchildren is a privilege.
Oupa Bopape/Galloimages

He is one of the pioneers of African jazz music. His music helped millions of people in the townships stay sane during the apartheid era.

Veteran jazz maestro Sipho Hotstix Mabuse just turned 70 and he’s got a lot to celebrates. He’s made great music for decades, travelled the world, created a lasting legacy and he’s lived his life with no regrets.

He started his career as a drummer in 1970 and his big break came with the single Jiva Soweto. This year the musician celebrates 70 years of a life well lived and shares seven career highlights.

1: A young Hotstix: “One of my most memorable moments was not even about my music but was about my youth. I was accompanying my parents during the passive resistance, burning the Dompas (A Pass Book) during apartheid. That will always remain in my memory. The music that played on that day was sad music yet moving and that memory still lingers in my thoughts.”

2: Starting a band: “In high school, we started one of the most prolific music bands, The Beaters. I had always loved music, but I never imagined myself in a band composing music, I always imagined myself to be an academic until we formed The Beaters.”

3: Meeting Icons: “I have performed on many stages around the world. But meeting the late Nelson Mandela when he came out of prison would always be unforgettable, exchanging pleasantries with mama Winnie Mandela was also an incredible highlight.”

4: Success: “My musical success is always something that I will cherish. I understood that this was my calling at a very early age. I wanted to change lives through my music and sharing a stage with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Queen, and many others assured me that I am worthy. There are so many memories.”

5: Gratitude: “Being alive and making it to 70 years old is a milestone and a blessing. To be born is a privilege and should not be taken lightly. I never realised that I was growing until people kept reminding me because I’ve always felt young at heart. But I also never thought that I would make it to 70 years old. I feel privileged. My aunt, who is my father’s youngest sister lost all her siblings before they turned 70 years old and she celebrated when she made it that old and for me, that is my inspiration.”

6: Family: “Although my life has been a great adventure, I wish I had spent more time with my children when they were younger. I spent many years on the road, travelling and making music. I hope I expressed my love to my kids, but I do wish I had spent more time with all my children.”

7: His message to young musicians: “Commitment is important. Make time for your craft, practice, learn and discover new ways of being creative. Young people also need to use music for the good of society. Music is a gift you use to share your experiences with others, being a musician means you’re a prophet and you need to use it for the good.”

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse on turning 70: ‘I don’t feel like I’m 70, I’m just aware now’ | TSHISALIVE


SA music icon Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse celebrated his 70th birthday at 1947 On Vilakazi in Soweto. Close family and friends were in attendance.
SA music icon Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse celebrated his 70th birthday at 1947 On Vilakazi in Soweto. Close family and friends were in attendance. Image: Alon Skuy

Legendary jazz and pop musician Sipho Hotstix Mabuse is not scared of ageing, nor is he any less aware that he feels and looks younger than he should. 

Dressed in a suave classic blue suit at his intimate party at Soweto on Tuesday, Hotstix exuded a kind of energy that was calm and poised as he warmly greeted and mingled with his guests.

Surrounded by friends and family, he was elated at the milestone, considering that on his father’s side of the family they have barely reached that age before they passed.  

He had a sit-down with TshisaLIVE to count his blessings, as he has been “walking in the footsteps of giants”. Ageing comes with a sense of awareness, something the musician is conscious of.  

“I don’t feel like I’m 70, I think it’s just perhaps I’m aware now, but I don’t actually feel it. I think the kind of lifestyle I’ve led has made me feel more comfortable with my progressing years so, I’ve never really felt older than what I should be.”

With a career spanning more than 50 years, he refuses to believe that he has reached his pinnacle and also refuses to don the hat of musical genius.

“I wish I was,  I think there are people who are more talented and with more genius that one could always refer to. I thought Ray Phiri was a genius; when I listened to some of the music that man created, I thought you can only be the best if you can be like that man.”

At the beginning of the intimate do, a list of musicians was read out, and a deafening silence filled the room, as the names of great musicians who have now passed was listed. Hotstix was paying homage to extraordinary colleagues who had served as inspiration for his music. 

He credits his staying power to his inventiveness. 

“I’ve been a privileged musician … when one is able to interact with all different kinds of people, especially in the music industry, they have different types of music – it can only be part of my inventiveness, they helped me along the way. You know there is a saying that you walk in the steps of the giants.

“I’ve always found myself walking in the footsteps of these giants that SA has produced and in a way that has kept me going for some time. I also believe that because I am a focused person, if I made a choice to become a musician, I can only be a product of what my vocation is, unless of course I found myself wanting.”

Hotstix took a trip down memory lane to his impressionable years when he created Thaba Bosiu, a song he said was a fan favourite

“I was motivated, perhaps inspired, by this traditional music of the healers as a drummer. I was a youngster, I think that era was my impressionable age where this traditional music of healers inspired me to become what I am.”

 “Now the music  industry is changing and will always present new ideas and thoughts. I’m not adverse to new ideas or to working with people who have new ideas and thoughts in the music industry, and I think through that, I’ve always learned that I can also reinvent myself throughout. I’ve never allowed dictates of the industry to determine how I create my music – the music should speak for itself.”

Sipho Mabuse partners with Nescafé Ricoffy

Why was partnering with Nescafé Ricoffy on this campaign such a good fit for you?

2021 is a seminal year for me. Why? MY 70th birthday on 2 November 2021, that’s why, when my manager was approached, (I have been working with Martin Myers since 1985), it seemed a natural fit. The brand is so well-known, and I feel it is as authentic as I am. I have spent the past 50 years in the music business, first as a member of The Beaters, then Harari, before becoming a solo artist, so there’s a lot of history and legacy there, a lot like the Ricoffy brand. 

What does your South African heritage mean to you?

I still live in Soweto; it makes me whole. It is my DNA.

What makes you most proud to be a South African?

We are a nation that overcomes adversity. 

In the South African music scene, every generation brings about a new sound and purpose – how does one stay relevant and unique in the space? 

I went back to school and completed my matric, aged 60 because I had unfinished business. It was a joyful experience.

As far as the discipline of the classroom is concerned, music is no different. I play my sax daily to keep musically fit and if by reading this, something moves you to do something, I have helped someone grow and that brings me great joy.

Knowledge is power. I chair Music Exchange, an NPC and global music conference that is now in its 11th year. It ran online from 11 September to 2 October 2021, and our focus is all about educating artists about the business of music. My manager, Martin Myers, is the convenor. We need to build on these programmes if only to ensure that artists don’t slip through the cracks and make mistakes.

With success comes challenges, what are some of the life lessons that you’ve learned in your career?

Be authentic, pitch up and do the work, don’t believe the hype, and respect everyone you meet. 

You never know where the journey will lead you. Who knew “Burn Out” would have such an effect on people to this day?

Have a team around you, no one is an island. 

I have a curious mind and a wonderful manager Martin Myers and his team who works hard and believes in me and always has my back.

Learn and appreciate the power of collaboration. With that known and respected, the sky is truly the limit.

With more than 50 years of accomplishments and experience in the industry, what has been some of the biggest highlights for you in your career?

My whole career has been a joy. I am blessed to have written songs that the world love, but if I must put a musical list down, seeing Nelson Mandela as a free man, 46664 shows in London at Hyde Park, and New York at Radio City Music Hall, but there are many more. Each show brings with it a highlight, no matter how big or small, I welcome them all.

Covid-19 has brought in challenges for many South Africans, especially musicians, do you have a message for hope for those who are feeling uncertain or anxious about the future?

We need to call out corruption when we see it. It’s not OK. Stop reading conspiracy theories and do the work, pitch up, pay attention, ask for advice. It’s not easy to do the ten thousand hours, work on your craft and make it happen for you, no one can do it for you, you as an artist must want to achieve to truly succeed.

Who are you listening to right now, and can you perhaps recommend any up and comers?

My son, Biko, is 19 and he’s just released a hip-hop album with his band, 12 Dogs. The album is called Consequence of Sound. Yes, dad is very proud.

Tabia is also a lovely vocalist (SAMA nominated). Listen to the album, The Journey. She’s also in my band, as well as Black Motion. The song “Prayer for Rain”. Billy Monama also has a lovely jazz album out called Rebounce. Check all these out, the diversity of the work is so lovely.

Bra Sipho Hotstix’s 70 birthday candles will never Burnout in our hearts

Published by capeetc on October 19, 2021

It was a magical night celebrating your 70th birthday when we forgot the troubles of the last 20 months for a few hours in each other’s company – all while a local government elections was looming. We needed this break, Bra Sipho, writes Gasant Abarder in the latest #SliceofGA.

Abarder, who recently launched his book, Hack with a Grenade, is among the country’s most influential media voices. Catch his weekly column here, exclusive to Cape {town} Etc.

At some point, we all fantasise about having the perfect dinner guests around. Who would you invite if you can have a room full of awesome South Africans in one place?

Last Wednesday, that fantasy became a reality as those nearest and dearest to a legend gathered to celebrate his 70th birthday. Music icon Sipho ‘Hotstix’ has that kind of pull. His longstanding manager Martin Myers and artist wife Razia Myers pulled off a masterstroke at a stunning Atlantic Seaboard setting (albeit a few weeks before Sipho’s actual birthday on November 2).

Gasant Abarder, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ and Laylaa Abarder.

To mention a few: aspirant mayor Brett Herron, Premier Alan Winde, veteran photojournalist Rashid Lombard, talk show host Pippa Hudson, the who’s who of the music industry, poet Siphokazi Jonas, WP cricket CEO Michael Canterbury, singer, actor and songwriter Alistair Izobell, my favourite journos Lance Witten and Robin Adams paying tribute to Bra Sipho. With DJ Wicksy providing the soundtrack.

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ with Rashid Lombard.

It was a magical night when we forgot the troubles of the last 20 months for a few hours in each other’s company – all while local government elections was looming. We needed this break. And, yes, Leeuwenhof is still haunted, according to our province’s first lady Tracy Winde!

I had first crossed paths with Bra Sipho in 2016 when I interviewed him for a profile to mark his 50th year on the music scene. He is no ordinary musician as his activism conscientised hearts and minds during our liberation struggle.

His set at the Concert in the Park with his band Harari, that drew more than 120 000 to Ellis Park, is etched in our minds. Just a year earlier, he released Burnout, which can so easily be the top search result when you google: “What is a uniquely South African sound?”

He gave a South Africa that was on its knees in 1985 then, what his birthday guests were experiencing now: the tonic to help us celebrate ourselves despite our difficulties and differences.

At the birthday party, Sipho’s aura was palpable. In response to the many glowing birthday tributes, he told Alan Winde to roars of laughter: “Firstly, my vote is my secret! I won’t let you know who I’ll be voting for. If you thought by coming here it was going to sway my thinking…”

He then went on to say in his modest way: “I’m truly honoured that the people who are here tonight, mean so much to me. Everyone who is here have had an impact on my life, either way. I do not believe I would have been where I am had it not been for the people who are here today.

Sipho “Hotstix’ Mabuse

“I consider myself a privileged black person. I will emphasise that. It’s not always easy when you come from a township to be surrounded by great minds. Minds that will always say, ‘We recognise what you do and we’re going to help you advance what you’re doing.’

“That, for me, has been one of the best opportunities to have interacted with the people who are in this house today… when you have people who are always nudging you and wishing you well to do things, you get the strength and the power from those who believe in you. You are in my heart, in my brain, in my space.”

That may be true, Bra Sipho. But you have done so much more for us. It was your story of completing your matric at the age of 60 that moved me to go back to school in 2017 and complete my degree. You kept in touch and followed my progress. And the power of your heartfelt message when I had COVID was a massive gesture that helped my recovery.

Then, in a moment I will never forget, walking into my Joburg book launch last December to make a good event a great one by contributing so brilliantly to the conversation.

It is us – the guests at the Cape Town leg of your party – who were privileged to have you in our lives along with the million others you have touched around the world in the course of your life. We’re delighted that you’re releasing new music just in time for Christmas on the back of 300 million impacts across 62 radio stations since 2015. Holder of The Order of Ikhamanga: Silver for excelling in the field of arts, culture and music. Part owner of our hearts.

You are a national treasure, Sipho Cecil Peter ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse. Happy birthday, legend!

Gasant Abarder, Sipho “Hotstix’ Mabuse

Pictures: Gasant Abarder