Speech by Minister Paul Mashatile at the funeral service of Hotep Galeta: delivered by Prof. K. W. Kgositsile on behalf of the Minister

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13 Nov 2010

Good morning.

Though the death of Hotep Galeta last week left us shocked and saddened, and will remain a deep loss on many levels to all of us, I think that as we bid him farewell we should remember that he would not have wanted us to remain paralyzed by it. He would have preferred that we celebrate his life.

This year alone we have suffered the loss of a number of great musicians that Hotep had worked with and was very close to. I’m referring to the loss of people like Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Robbie Jansen, Rex Rabane and Ezra Ngcukane.

Though Hotep was attracted to the jazz idiom at a very early age he remained open to and accepted all forms of musical expression, from the most revolutionary avant garde explorations to the possibilities of hiphop and kwaito. He was highly respected by colleagues and music lovers alike.
The list of musicians he has played and recorded with over several decades, both here at home and abroad, is very remarkable and clearly illustrates the wealth of his experience and contribution to the development of music and the spiritual nourishment of music lovers.

In spite of all his achievements he remained admirably humble and generous. He was fully alive, and by that I mean that he was not only capable of joy but capable of sharing that joy with others in every possible way; including through that seemingly easy embrace of his inimitable smile.

In addition to composing and playing music, Hotep was very interested and involved in the development of younger talent as well as the transfer of skills in the technologies used in producing music.

In April this year Hotep was appointed as a Board Member of the Downtown Music Hub in Johannesburg. It is no secret that though music is a significant portion of our cultural industry, Africans are its foot-soldiers but none are the commanders and generals. So the Department bought what was then Downtown Studios to establish this music hub to mine the rich vein of creativity embedded in South Africa’s diverse musical traditions. In this public private partnership we shall involve both corporate and community investors working jointly with government through the Department of Arts and Culture. The beneficiaries of this intervention shall be the community of musicians and the community they come from. Hotep’s vision and guidance were crucial to this undertaking. His death is a great loss to the Downtown Music Hub.

Let me conclude by quoting Eduardo Galeano, the great Uruguayan writer and social critic whose sentiments I think reflect something about how and where Hotep came into issues of culture:

“Culture didn’t end for us with the production of books, paintings, symphonies, films and plays. It didn’t even begin there. We understood culture to be the creation of any meeting space among people, and culture for us included all the collective symbols of identity and memory: the testimonies of what we are, the prophecies of the imagination, the denunciations of what prevents us from being …. We wanted to talk to people, return the word to them: culture is communication or nothing. In order for it not to be mute, we thought the new culture had to begin by not being deaf.”

On behalf of the Ministry and Department of Arts and Culture I would like to convey our sincerest condolences to Hotep’s widow Angela, the Galeta and Moodley families, friends and the music community.

Hamba Kahle Hotep.