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.

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

Joel Mbrooks Mlomo

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

Moses Taiwa 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

Ngexko 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