RIP Johnny Dimba

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Johnny Dimba. Photo by Val Adamson.
Johnny Dimba. Photo by Val Adamson.

South Africa’s arts fraternity has lost a highly-valued and much-loved son with the passing on the weekend of musician-poet and arts activist Johnny Dimba, after a short illness.

A memorial service in his honour will be held at Durban’s Emmanuel Cathedral on Thursday 22 January 2015 between 12h00 and 13h00.

Dimba brought to his passion for the arts a finely-tuned legal mind. According information on the Ulwazi Sharing Indigenous Knowledge website, Dimba, a resident of Umlazi, held three degrees in Law.

A specialist in the field of Intellectual Property, he served on the advisory panels to more than one national minister of Arts and Culture. However, his passion was for working with aspirant artists on the ground. He gave unstintingly of his knowledge not only to arts institutions but to individual artists of all walks of life, sharing with them his passion of skills impartment, while imbuing them with a spirit of self-empowerment.[GARD]

Dimba started a business foundation which offered starter packs to cultural industries, notably in the performing arts. He taught the basics of what you should do to develop policies. He also approached the national government but it took ten years to be recognized before he was invited by Minister Lulu Xingwana to go to Paris. He then travelled to England in his personal capacity before he began working with the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers. He continued tirelessly educating, developing policy, lobbying for the government to recognize arts and culture as part of poverty alleviation and job creation. [GARD]

On a personal level, I engaged with Johnny Dimba first while serving for a while on the interim board of the KwaZulu-Natal United Music Industry Association (KUMISA). I subsequently worked with him while publicizing his innovatively structured ‘Trendsetters’ programme for Durban’s Stable Theatre in 2014. I was always struck by this kind and gentle man’s capacity for listening to others with empathy and understanding.

Clearly, here was a man who preferred a hands-on approach to working with arts practitioners on a one-on-one basis, rather being impeded by the strictures of red tape that typify government institutions. A significant thrust of his mission was to enable artists to run their own careers successfully, and to reap the benefits of their own creativity.

Our sympathies go to his wife and two sons.

Emmanuel Cathedral is situated at 10 Cathedral Road (pass Dr Yussuf Dadoo Street) as you pass the taxi rank on the right, there is a short right turn right. The Cathedral is opposite the Fish Market. Parking is available at Nichole Square Parkade. Following Thursday’s 12h00 memorial service, Johnny Dimba’s funeral, also at Emmanuel Cathedral, will take place on Saturday 24 January at 10h00.

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