NELSPRUIT, Mpumalanga - Ray Phiri's hometown, Nelspruit, is mourning his loss after the music icon, aged 70, lost his battle with cancer and passed away at a local hospital.
Family and friends gathered at the music legend's home to reflect on a life and career interwoven with South Africa's fight for freedom.
Phiri Family Spokesperson Paul Nkanyane said, "We are all shattered, not only us, the family has lost a man. He was a pillar to the family, the whole South Africa, even the whole world. He had travelled a whole lot of places in the world. We'll miss him."
Phiri's talents were first revealed in the Croc Valley Primary School hall.
His childhood friend, Mthofu Makhubela said, "He started singing in 1972 for a band called 'Amazimzim'. He then moved to Mbombela. They started a group called the Cannibals. He came back here with the Cannibals to sing.
"On weekends they would come to this hall. He left and came back with Paul Ndolvu to sing here in this hall."