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Chris Kele dies in South Africa

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The creative industry has been dealt a big blow following the death of renowned musician, guitarist, producer and former Acacias Band member Chris Kele in South Africa Wednesday.

Reggae musician Sally Nyundo of the ‘Ras Amadya Mzimbe’ fame, who is based in South Africa, confirmed the development Wednesday but referred Arts and Culture to fellow musician Solace Lington for more details.

Lington, who is also based in the Rainbow Nation, said Kele, real name Christopher Chipwaila, had been unwell for close to a month.

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“I have been recording with Chris Kele since 2011 and on Monday we received a call from his friend Gabriel, who he used to work with, to go and check on him since he was away. We found out he was not well and, with assistance from his landlord, he was taken to Southern Hospital and later a hospital in Soweto where he passed on this morning (Wednesday) around 8:30am,” he said.

He could not shed more light on the other arrangements.

His brother Madalitso said they were saddened with Kele’s death.

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“We are shocked with his sudden death. He was our pillar. I used to perform with him in the past years but I didn’t continue but he took music as his career. He has produced music for lots of musicians both local and international,” Madalitso said.

Erik Paliani, who starred with Kele in Acacias Band, said the country had lost a talented guitarist and producer.

“He was planning to come back home and we had lots of plans. He was a good musician and one producer I admired. We discovered music together and, unfortunately, we did not achieve half the things we wanted to do,” Paliani, who also spent years in South Africa and starred with Hugh Masekela, said.

Ben Mankhamba, who also performed together with Kele in Acacias, said the death of Kele was a great loss to the music industry in the country.

“He used to play the bass guitar in Acacias and then moved to playing the lead guitar. Although he was abroad, he worked with lots of artists and recorded music for a lot of musicians. He was a friendly person and I can say we have lost icon, who was even talented in production,” Mankhamba, who is Village Head Chingalire, said.

Kele played the guitars in Mlaka Maliro’s latest single ‘There’s No Wine’ off the album The Risen King to be launched later this year.

“He was a good guitarist and well exposed alongside Erik Paliani and that is why I used them in my latest album. I am shocked with his death,” Mlaka said.

Several other musicians and creatives mourned Kele Wednesday, with many saying he produced and mixed their songs.

Kele, who had stayed in South Africa for close to 11 years and worked with artists through Blue Arts Studios, told Arts and Culture in December last year that he was returning home this year.

“I am coming home for good. I am coming with a Nigerian friend, bandmate and saxophone player Baptist Gabriel aka Saxy G. He is coming to help me coach my band. I need perfection for my AFRIculture Band before its official launch,” he said.

Kele also told Arts and Culture that he had improved his production standards and that he was looking forward to working with producers, musicians and engineers in the country.

The musician called his music Africulture jazz, which was a fusion of jazz and African melodies and rhythms.

In 2014, he visited the country and held concerts as part of promoting his album Ulendo.

Kele came from Williams Village, Traditional Authority Katunga in Chikwawa District.

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