Jonas Gwangwa – photo by William Ellis

Jonas Gwangwa
Photo Credit: William Ellis
Photo taken at Cape Town Jazz Festival 2003

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is preparing an exhibition on the great South African musician Jonas Gwangwa which will tour South Africa for a year. This portrait of Gwangwa by William Ellis, taken at the Cape Town Jazz Festival in March 2003, will be included in the exhibition.

Jonas Gwangwa is an important figure in South African jazz. He first came to prominence as trombonist in the Jazz Epistles. He was forced into exile in the early 1970s, and returned in 1991. He shares the composer credit with George Fenton for Richard Attenborough’s film Cry Freeedom. The title song (follow link) and film score were nominated for an Oscar.

William Ellis remembers taiking the picture: ” I was in Cape Town for my first international exhibition hosted by the Cape Town JF in a joint show with Jürgen Schadeberg. whose work I have long admired. My time with Mr. Gwangwa was short, for just a few minutes before his concert we were literally alone backstage. He spoke to me of his long years in exile during the apartheid era, then seemed to leave me to be with his thoughts and memories.”
Mandela Foundation website

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