Langa Jazz Legends

The vibrant township of Langa in Cape Town, South Africa is home to various prominent jazz musicians, spanning from the 1940’s into the early decades of the 21st century. When the township was formed, due to apartheid regulations, jazz music was developing and simultaneously Langa jazz flourished. It portrayed the emotions of musicians struggling for freedom and finding comfort in the jive, lively sounds of jazz. Mixed with traditional South African beats, Langa jazz became a unique sound that incorporated Western jazz, swing beats, gospel, African vocals and chords.

SouthAfrica.co.za shares the stories of pioneering Langa Jazz Legends. With photographs dating back to the 1940’s, we honour the musicians who created and upheld the jazz sounds of Langa. Although many of the musicians may have passed on, their legacy will forever be remembered and celebrated through their music.

By Carla Lottering

Aspro Sipoyo

Aspro Sipoyo was a gifted artist from Langa in the Western Cape who excelled at various creative endeavours. He was born in 1938 and grew up alongside musicians, performers and academics....more

Buggs Gongco

If you look back at the Langa jazz legends, the name ‘Buggs’ will always resonate with the sweet and rhythmic sound of the piano....more

Danayi Dlova

Dlova's home was not far from the Ngcukana household, which consisted of brothers Duke and Erza who were both acclaimed musicians, as well as their father, Christopher Columbus Ngcukana....more

Ephraim 'Cups 'n Saucer' Nkanuka

There are few South African jazz performers as magnificent as Cups Nkanuka. His unusual name is one of legend among local jazz enthusiasts, as he had a profound impact on SA jazz throughout the 1950’s....more

Fezile Christopher Columbus Mra Ngcukana

In 1944, he began learning trumpet under the legendary Tem Hawker to fulfil his great desire to play a musical instrument. He ultimately replaced Moses Molelekoa on trumpet in Temmy Hawker's Harmony Kings big band....more

Frazer Tem Temmy Hawker

With these instruments he formed the first jazz band in Langa, ‘Tem Hawker and his Harmony Kings’. His band members were Ezekiel Makeleni, trombone; Sam Maphila, guitar and banjo; Joe Oliphant, bass; Andrew Veldman, drums; Walter ‘Glider’ Jacobs, piano; M...more

George Werner

The South African, and more specifically the Cape Town, jazz scene owes a lot of credit to musician, George Werner - the quiet, shy and soft-spoken gentle giant of SA jazz....more

Joel Mbrooks Mlomo

One of the first jazz musicians of Langa, Tem Hawker, taught Mlomo singing and tap dancing....more

Louis Tebogo Moholo

The vibrant township of Langa has produced many iconic jazz musicians, and Louis Moholo is no exception....more

Moses Molelekoa

Molelekoa formed The Mother City Jazz Band with juniors, ten to twelve-year-olds, including girls, which were led by his daughter. He was also part of the ‘De Bafana band’ with Bassie Zindi....more

Ngxeko Syfred Dlova

He and his brother, Danayi, showed an interest in music from an early age. Danayi started playing the piano, while Ngxeko learned to play the trumpet....more

The Ngcukana Brothers

Ezra Nyaniso Ngcukana was an exceptional, versatile jazz musician and the younger brother of fellow jazz legend Duke Ngcukana. His father was the prominent baritone and tenor saxophonist Mra Ngcukana....more

Victor Mhleli Ntoni

Legendary jazz musician Victor Ntoni was known for his impeccable skills on bass, but more so for his composing and arranging of music. Ntoni found inspiration for his music and compositions from township culture...more

Winston 'Mankunku' Ngozi

Winston Monwabisi "Mankunku" Ngozi was a South African jazz musician, known for his phenomenal saxophone skills and expressive music that encapsulated the strife of being a musician in apartheid-South Africa....more