FRANCISTOWN: Francistowners are mourning the sudden passing away of local jazz legend, Soares ‘DJ SK’ Katumbela on Thursday.
Former drummer with Francistown’s 1970s music group, The Shades, Cynthia Bright passed her condolences to the Katumbela family. Bright, who was visibly saddened, explained that Katumbela and her were members of the Makgadikgadi Band.
The mother of renowned Francistown-based disc jockey, DJ Bunz lives at Area W, a stone throw from the Katumbela family compound, revealed that they were brought together by the love of jazz, and were members of the Francistown Jazz Club. “This is shocking news to me. Katumbela was a great man, a really good person, we played (music) together for a long time,” she said. “Since I have known him in the 1970s, he was dedicated to the music industry. He made music his career and he helped a lot of people that are musicians today. It is a huge loss to the jazz fraternity and to music in general.”
DJ Bunz, whose real names are Peter Malefho Taolo, said he could not believe the shocking news of Soares’ death.
The young DJ said Katumbela introduced him to the music industry at the Katumbelas’ family-owned Ritzmar Bar and Club that operated in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Kgaphamadi location.
“I will pass my condolences to his family,” he said. “That man made me. He brought me into music. He was very humble, a very good man who would not shout at anyone. I am deeply touched by his death. Everything I know about music is through Soares and his club, Ritzmar. I even met my mentors like DJ Fresh and the late DJ Tambai in music at Ritzmar through Soares. “In fact he made all of us. He provided the venue and music systems for us and trusted us, young as we were. Soares was a good man and I will always remember him.” The Francistown City Council, which had partnered with Katumbela for the jazz festival that was to have taken place this past Saturday, also sent its condolences to his family.
The City Clerk, Mompati Seleka said Francistown and the nation at large had lost a visionary man. “It’s a loss in many facets for the city. The city has lost an enterprising person who carried initiatives that were in line with our vision to make Francistown a vibrant city. He was a man who we expected to guide us to attain our vision in the music industry,” Seleka said. “This festival he had organised promised to not only create vibrancy, but to also uplift people of lower echelons in our society through donation of the festival proceeds to the Mayor’s charity fund.”
Seleka added that they hoped the loss of Katumbela will not spell the end of Streethorn. He said they have entered into a three-year agreement with Streethorn Promotions and they will continue to support the company as per the agreement.
In his last interview with this reporter last week, Katumbela had great vision that his jazz festival will enhance the growth of jazz in Botswana’s second city and the northern part of the country after five years. “First events always carry a lot of teething problems but the festival will go ahead, it’s now or never. I wish you could help us to grow this festival year after year for five years then profile our journey. This is going to be a big festival,” Katumbela told The Monitor, eerily to be his last words.
Meanwhile, on Saturday at 8.37 am, Streethorn Promotions announced postponement of the Francistown Jazz Festival through their Facebook page. The statement read: “It is with deep regret that following the death of the Streethorn director and Francistown Jazz Festival producer, there won’t be a show today. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this. Full information will follow.”
The stage and equipment that was already erected at the Francistown Old Stadium was taken down shortly after the announcement. When The Monitor arrived at the stadium, workers were busy dismantling the stage while a number of curious people kept passing by to check whether indeed the festival had been postponed.
Prayers will be held in Tlokweng every day at 5pm and the funeral will be in Gaborone on Saturday.