Minister Nathi Mthethwa pays tribute to multi-award winning DJ Saba Mbixane of Umhlobo Wenene

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27 Feb 2015

It was with deep shock and sadness that we learned of the passing on of multi-award winning Radio DJ and champion of traditional music, Saba “Zawu-Zawu” Mbixane.

He passed away after fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Umthatha in the Eastern Cape after being involved in a severe motor-bike accident.

A passionate organic farmer and traditional music enthusiast, Mbixane grew up in Mandileni, Mount Frare. This legend of the airwaves served the broadcasting industry with laudable excellence for over three decades.

He started out as a regular agricultural commentator at various radio stations while he was a student at Tsolo College of Agriculture in the early 1980s. He joined the then Radio Transkei as a presenter of Agricultural shows in January 1985, and by July he initiated a traditional music show called Isingqi Sakwantu (Traditional Rhythms).

He was soon recruited to Umhlobo Wenene where he commanded a huge following while presenting shows such as Ezolimo, Siwelítukela, and the widely celebrated traditional music programme, Lavuthibhayi. 

DJ Saba – as he was affectionately known - has been the biggest individual winner of the South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) since their establishment in 2008. He dominated the “yellow carpet” scooping awards in consecutive years in the categories of Best Traditional Radio DJ, Best Traditional Music Radio Programme, and Best Traditional Music Programme. He was a well-known ambassador and advocate for the development and growth of traditional music in the broadcasting industry and beyond. 

The audience of his programmes went beyond the Xhosa language speakers. In fact, his followers and listeners were the lovers of traditional music across South Africa that tuned in to Umhlobo Wenene. Thus he was pivotal in helping Umhlobo Wenene to grow the overall listenership of the station to over 3 million.

As a cultural activist and talent scout for indigenous music, DJ Saba also initiated three young music groups that he mentored and helped travel worldwide to popularise this music genre.

He was an outstanding broadcaster, cultural activist, talent scout and promoter of indigenous music, especially mbhaqanga.

We offer our condolences to his family, friends, fraternity and followers throughout the country. His legacy will live through the SATMA that will continue to honour the memory of this legend.

Hamba kahle, Zaw Zaw, Mbabala, Sbhushwana. Ugqibile wen’ ukusebenza! 

For further details, call Spokesperson for the Minister, Sandile Memela at 082 800 3750.