Biography Of Jonathan Paul Clegg

Biography Of Jonathan Paul Clegg

Jonathan Paul Clegg was a South African musician and anthropologist. He is well-known for his part in the Juluka and Suvuka band in South Africa. His date of birth was 7th of June 1953.

Clegg’s associated acts is Sipho Mchunu. The duo were the first group formed when South Africa was on the policy of racial segregation. Clegg was resistant to apartheid and an important figure in the South African popular music. He is known for mixing Zulu with English lyrics and African music with western styles. Clegg was born in Lancashire, UK to an English father Dennis Clegg and a Rhodesian mother Muriel Braudo.

He also has Jewish and Polish roots. He moved with his mother to Zimbabwe and later South Africa at the age of 6. He also spent part of his early years in Israel. He learned the Zulu language, maskandi (local) guitar, and the ishishameni (local) dance from a man named Charlie Mzila. Charlie was a flat cleaner and late night musician.

Clegg’s relationship with black musicians at this time led to his several arrests. He met Sipho Mchunu, a Zulu migrant worker at the age of 17. The duo began to perform music which made them a household name; a brand they named Juluka. Clegg at a time lectured at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and the University of Natal. He wrote several scholarly papers on Zulu music and dance. He also combined his music with the study of anthropology at Wits, where he was influenced notably by the work of David Webster, a social anthropologist.

Clegg’s songs is always introduced with snippets of Zulu culture, information, commentary, humor and personal amusing stories relevant and unique to the song. He also have a way of incorporating aspects of his Jewish roots in his music, notably in his songs “Jericho”, “Jerusalem”, and “Warsaw 1943”.


The apartheid-era was really difficult for Clegg and Mchunu. Their songs were not given airplay on national radio but they performed in private places such as hostels, churches, universities, and so on. The group later became six members; three white musicians and black musicians. It was a tough time for Clegg and members as they faced harassment and censorship. Juluka was meant to be a non-political band but it’s song lyrics contained coded political messages to battle apartheid.

Clegg however, stated that he isn’t a political activist but one who stands for human rights. As a result of their political messages and racial integration, Clegg and other members of the band were arrested severally and had concerts cancelled. The music brand was a success abroad and had world tours, playing in Europe, Canada, and the United States.

They had two Platinum and five gold albums, thereby becoming an international success.  Juluka, was however, disbanded as a result of Mchunu’s retirement from music in 1985. They came together briefly in the mid-1990s to release one final album in 1997 before breaking up for good.  Clegg formed another inter-racial band called Suvuka after the first parting out of Juluka in 1986; this time, he had another black musician and dancer Dudu Zulu. The band released albums which included Third World Child, Heat, Dust, and Dreams.

They broke International sales records in several European countries and also received a Grammy Award nomination. The band however, was disbanded in 1993.  Clegg also recorded several albums on his own. In 1999, he was famously joined on stage by South African President, Nelson Mandela, who danced and sang one of Suvuka’s popular song titled Asimbonanga. Clegg performed his last scheduled tour date in Mauritius in October 2016.



His touring scheduled for 2017 was cancelled after undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer. Jonathan Clegg is a recipient of many awards during his lifetime. He was a recipient of the Chavelier des Arts et Lettres (Knights of Arts and Letters) by the French government in 1991. In 2007, he received an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Witwatersrand. He also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the City University of New York School of Law.

In 2013, he received the Order of Ikhamanga Silver (OIS) as part of the National Orders ceremony, an award which is the highest honor a citizen can receive in South Africa. This award was presented to him by President Jacob Zuma. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Dartmouth College, Hanover, USA.

His list of awards also include an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and in 2015, he received an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Visual and Performing Arts from the Durban University of Technology, South Africa alongside his band mate Jonathan Clegg. Clegg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, this eventually led to his death on the 16th of July 2019. He is survived by his wife Jenny and his two sons Jesse and Jaron. His net worth is estimated to be $5 million.




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