Caiphus Semanya

In the dark city of Alexander Township

Not too far from Kings Bioscope

A place that sparked Alexander bus boycott

Masemenya lived around the corner from here at 4TH Street.

She epitomized womanhood to be human hood and more

Masemenya gave birth to a child called Caiphas Semenya

Who went on to weave and sing many songs.


For the love of life in many distant horizon of this world.

Today happens to be his 70th birthday

That we are celebrating this evening.

Imagine seven score decade of living

Without a wrinkle to depict pain and sorrow of exile life

Encountered in all his trials and tribulations as a musician

Is something to envy in his life pilgrimage.


All of us who are gathered here this evening

Wish to say in the lyrics of Brother Hugh Masekela;

“Melody maker we want to thank you, for making us happy”

Your melody and harmony echoes in many distant horizon of this world.


As you celebrate the August of your life

I want to say in Brother Jonas Gwagwa lirycs”kukude hele mama

Nalapho siyo vela khona.Nalapho siqonde khona”

Meaning we come a long way but we still have a long way to go.

This is his new release but it goes back to the cotton fields

Of Gainsville florida. And I was there in its making.

As my memory beckons for future

I am reminded of a critical incident that took place

When I was visiting Sis Letta and my Brother Caiphas in los Angelos.

There were in the midst of recording the Roots Album

With Quincy Jones. Caiphas out of the blue told me that one day

He would like to establish a National Academy Of Africa’s Performing Arts .

I thought it was just a defered dream. Because the tyranny of time and space

In South Africa was reminiscent of Nazi Germany. And such a thing could never happen.

But today on his 70th birthday his dream is filling up like the limpopo River.


And , Why not! our rainbow nation is yearning for its cultural identity

for a generation to come. The National Academy of Africa, Performing Arts

Like the Duke Elington School of the Perfoming Arts in Washington D.C

Is long overdue here in South Africa. How can we dream of having a National

Cultural group like the one found in Guinea, Mexico, or China to mention a few.

If you do not have a place, to incubate our young talented artists.


We are pleased to announce the presents of our legends across the river. They are here with us in spirit, to celebrate your 70th birthday Ntate Caiphas Semenya. These legends are Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Herb Alpert, Wayne Henderson and WiltonFelder.

Allow me at this juncture to thank all the legends at home and abroad

Who have made music the main orchestration of their lives

During the trying time of apartheid. To celebrate your accolades

I would like to dedicate this poem written by Langston Hughes the doyen

Of the Harlem Renaissance who kept the Afrikspirit glowing at all cost. The poem reads like so;

I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow

Of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went

Down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn

Al golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

To Sis Letta who stood by her husband through thick and thin

Your marriage was made in heaven and we who are casualties

In this institution of marriage in the rainbow nation can only take notes from you.

On how to live in harmony like the sun compliments the earth