Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Monday, April 05, 2004

A great loss to the SA music industry

One of Southern Africa's most famous musicians has been shot dead in Johannesburg city centre, in an apparent robbery. Gito Baloi, a bass guitarist originally from Mozambique, lived and performed in South Africa for many years. His murder comes one week before a general election, in which South Africa's high crime rate is an important issue. About 20,000 people are murdered in South Africa each year.

It is the end of a chapter in the lives of many South Africans. We have lost a hero.
This was just one of many moving things said about Gito Baloi, 39, an icon in the South African music industry, during a vigil at his Kensington home on Sunday.
Baloi was shot and killed in central Johannesburg early on Sunday as he returned home from a gig in Pretoria.

Surrounded by the traditional music of his extended family - Nyanja as well as Shangaan - Baloi spent his earliest years exploring sounds with the aid of discarded paraffin tins, reeds and anything he could lay his hands on. His first public performances, playing a borrowed bass guitar at 14 years of age, helped to support his family in a war-torn Mozambique. Gito was inspired by Mozambican musicians like Hortensia Langa, Fani Mfumo and Orchestra Marabenta, and he traveled with a band called “ Afro 78” from Maputo to Nampula, Ilha de Mozambique, Beira and Angoche all before he’d reached the age of 15 years.