Jonas Gwangwa

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Jonas Gwangwa
Jonas Gwangwa Late.png
Born Jonas Mosa Gwangwa
(1937-10-19)October 19, 1937
Orlando West, Soweto
Johannesburg, Gauteng
South Africa
Died January 23, 2021(2021-01-23) (aged 83)
Orlando West, Soweto
Johannesburg, Gauteng
South Africa
  • Recording Artist
  • Songwriter
  • Record Producer
Years active 1959 - 2021
Spouse(s) Violet Molebatsi Gwangwa

Jonas Gwangwa (19 October 1937 - 23 January 2021) was a South African recording artist, jazz musician, songwriter and record producer. He rose to fame towards the end of the 1950s as a trombonist for the South African band, The Jazz Epistles, alongside Dollar Brand - who played the piano, Kippie Moeketsi - who played the alto saxophone, Hugh Masekela - who played the trumpet, Johnny Gertze - who played bass, with Makaya Ntshoko and Early Mabuza who alternated on drums.

In the 1960s Jonas Gwangwa gained international fame and went on to perform in the concert, Sound Of Africa at Carnegie Hall, in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States. That concert saw performances from Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Letta Mbulu - who all went on to become a generation defining artists.

Social Media

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Film Score

Jonas Gwangwa composed the original score for the 1987 film, Cry Freedom, starring Denzel Washington as Steve Biko and Kevin Kline as Donald Woods, and went on to earn two Oscar nominations.

Attempted Assassination

In 1985, Jonas Gwangwa reportedly survived a bombing of his home by apartheid security forces.


Jonas Gwangwa was honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga by President Jacob Zuma in 2010.


Jonas Gwangwa died on Saturday 23 January 2021 after a persistent illness which had plagued him for at least two years. He died just two weeks after his wife, Violet Molebatsi Gwangwa, had died.


  1. The Guardian, Jonas Gwangwa, South African jazz musician and activist, dies aged 83, 10 March 2021
  2. The African Report, South Africa: Jonas Gwangwa – The political musician, 10 March 2021
  3. The Presidency of South Africa, Jonas Gwangwa, 10 March 2021
  4. New York Times, Jonas Gwangwa, Trombonist and Anti-Apartheid Activist, Dies at 83, 10 March 2021
  5. The Mail and Guardian, Jonas Gwangwa embodied South Africa’s struggle for a national culture, 10 March 2021
  6. Pitch Fork, Jonas Gwangwa, South African Jazz Musician and Activist, Dead at 83, 10 March 2021
  7. Sowetan LIVE, Tribute to a legend: Jonas Gwangwa, 10 March 2021

See Also