Jonas Gwangwa

Jonas Mosa Gwangwa (born 1937) is a South African Jazz musician, songwriter and producer. He has been an important figure in South African jazz for over 40 years.

Gwangwa was born in Orlando East, Soweto. He first gained significance playing trombone with The Jazz Epistles. After the group broke up he continued to be important to the South African music scene and then later abroad.

In the 1960s he began to gain notice in the United States and in 1965 he was featured in a "Sound Of Africa" concert at Carnegie Hall. The others at the concert included Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Letta Mbulu. Despite that he was not seen favorably by the apartheid government so left his homeland in the early 1970s.

From 1980 to 1990, he was the leader of Amandla, the cultural ensemble of the African National Congress.

In later life, he became important as a composer doing the scores of films like Cry Freedom and, at the 60th Annual Academy Awards in 1988, he performed his nominated song Cry Freedom. Also, in 1988, he performed at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute in Wembley Stadium. In 1991, he returned to South Africa and, in 1997, he composed the theme for their Olympic bid.

He is the subject of a thesis entitled Music as a Cultural Weapon in the Life of Jonas Gwangwa (University of the Witwatersrand, 2004), written by Colette Szymczak.

Gwangwa is paid tribute as the subject of the composition "Portrait of Mosa Gwangwa" by Johnny Dyani, which appeared on the CD reissue of Dyani's Angolian Cry.

Birth and Death Data: Born 1941 (Johannesburg)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1967 - 1968

Roles Represented in DAHR: performer


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 119514 10/16/1967 Goin' home Jonas Gwangwa performer  
Decca 119515 10/16/1967 Pata Pata Jonas Gwangwa performer  
Decca 119516 10/16/1967 Afradellic Jonas Gwangwa performer  
Decca 119517 10/16/1967 Girl you'll be a woman soon Jonas Gwangwa performer  
Decca 119910 1/30/1968 Bum-diddy sunshine Jonas Gwangwa ; Mamsie Gwangwa performer  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Gwangwa, Jonas," accessed March 5, 2021,

Gwangwa, Jonas. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 5, 2021, from

"Gwangwa, Jonas." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 5 March 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier



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