Remembering South African singer Johnny Clegg

Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - 5:17pm


Johnny Clegg, the South African music legend dubbed “The White Zulu,” died on Tuesday at the age of 66. Clegg defied apartheid as a kid and hung out with blacks who taught him to sing and dance and play the guitar.

After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, Clegg cut down on his public performances while undergoing treatment, which won him a period of respite.

In late 2017, he embarked on a farewell tour called "The Final Journey" that took him to 12 cities in North America before circling back to Africa.

The World's Marco Werman interviewed Clegg on "The Final Journey" tour. He told Werman about his remarkable dance education — in a hostel, home to mostly Zulu laborers.

As a teenager, he learned from Zulu laborers that he met in a segregated hostel.

"My passport was that I was a kid and I was not yet part of the oppressive apparatus," Clegg said. "I wasn't an adult. I wasn't going into the army. I was 15 and I had a genuine love and a genuine hunger for this and they recognized that."

Clegg also reflected on the origins of his guitar playing and influences in South Africa and played a "walking song."