FOR MOSES (17 April 1973 – 13 February 2001)




circa 2000 AD

Bad Spirit



Moses was murdered out of jealousy and this everybody suspected. Travelling to the scene of this great tragedy, I stayed over at a friend’s house. The good friend’s younger brother was in a state of crisis. This late teen was undergoing a tremendous struggle with his inner self. The family were at a wits end. They were losing their beloved son. Perhaps he was turning away from his Eurocentric upbringing? Perhaps he wished himself to be born not only in Africa, but as an African? Perhaps the world of African jazz would help him find his authentic self? Perhaps?

The world of African jazz was known to be a tolerant and accepting environment that had given a nod of approval to lot of youths who might have otherwise been lost. Perhaps to be in the presence of African musicians and music, this late teen could be healed from the pressures of conforming to society?

Being a music journalist, I facillitated this brother on a journey into African jazz. He was a tall and good looking boy. His unwashed hair stood a foot above the top of his head. He may have been white of skin colour, but the weeks of personal neglect had changed his complexion to a shade of brown. His loss of self-awareness made him appear very aloof. Funnily enough, he was the splitting image of Moses Molelekwa, those few days before his death and Moses’s memory was still pulsating through the Johannesburg African jazz world.

Arriving at a jazz gathering at Kippies, the very location where Moses’s memorial service had recently taken place with a young man looking just like Moses was an extraordinary shock to witness on the faces of the music elite. The two music legends, Hotstix and Hugh looked like they had just seen a ghost. They had known Moses, and now their hearts appeared to skip a beat at this site. For them it was no less than the resurrection of the recently departed. They sung out a chorus in unison, “Moses has come back from the dead!” True to form, this brother who was not Moses at all, stared blankly into the distance, just as Moses might have done.

Within a short space of time, this brother had disappeared from a mental home without a trace, and was never recovered. The African jazz experience had not helped him at all. It could have even exacerbated his problem. And that is not the spirit of African jazz.

The mythological consequence of darkness overcoming light was even more evident than before. The power of African jazz to heal had become its opposite, a power to destroy. And this destructive energy began to sweep through the music industry. No longer were jazz festivals spectacles of celebration en masse, but wind swept gatherings of die-hards.

There was this young saxophonist from a Pretoria based band called Spirits Rejoice. He was hitting his jazz in an avant-garde style that defied comprehension. The music was almost impossible to follow. But it was raw and honest. It came from a beautiful, generous and open heart that had been wounded by the competition and jealousy in the industry. The saxophonist had become fixated in his own seriousness. Music was his last and only outlet, but it was not communicative. Nobody could understand the music and help him channel his expression into a positive direction. This young man was thoroughly depressed. He was next to kill himself.

And then it was the turn of the young saxophonist called Moses Khumalo. Moses Khumalo was Moses Molelekwa’s long-time collaborator, friend and direct understudy. They had met at a jam session in the townships. They got to know each other on the bandstand, playing a traditional South African marabi. And that was the start of a long collaboration. Moses Khumalo joined the Moses Molelekwa band and they performed together for years, playing for packed out halls, grand gatherings and big festivals. Moses Khumalo was really a nice guy, the happy go lucky kind,  always smiling, always sending out this sprightly African flavour of funky sound on his sax. He had nothing to complain about and nothing to get depressed over. Even the death of Moses Molelekwa had not got him down. He had taken it to the chin with a real maturity and wisdom beyond his years and had gone onto a successful solo career that one would never have predicted to be cut so short.

Moses Khumalo, harvested absolutely no bitterness or anger. He loved all music. Moses Molelekwa’s demise had not surprised him. Moses Khumalo knew the murdered. He called it “Bad Spirit”. He said, “If you do something good for someone and they tell you it is bad, Bad Spirit attaches to you. And there is a lot of it in the music industry.”

Bad spirit can be projected through emotions such as jealousy, hatred and mean-ness. When it attaches to its victim, bad spirit hooks into the energy field and brings the person down. Bad spirit is invisible, it does not have a physical body. But it has a mental and emotional body and attaches to the mental and emotional body of its victim.


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