Ramesh Hassan, who was born Hassan Saib, played the right notes to foster communal harmony.
The South African Indian community is mourning the demise of musician and singer Ramesh Hassan, who changed his Muslim birth name to foster communal harmony in the country through his music.
Hassan (73), considered the face of Hindu-Muslim unity in South Africa, died of heart attack on Saturday.
He had changed his Muslim birth name of Hassan Saib to Ramesh Hassan because he wanted to foster harmony between Hindus and Muslims living in South Africa through music.
Hassan had planned a series of comeback shows over the next few months.
He started performing at the age of 14, belting out cover versions of popular songs of singers like Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard among others. He later shifted his skills to singing in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Urdu and the indigenous languages — Afrikaans, Zulu and Sesotho.
In the early 1990s, boosted by the national public broadcast Indian radio station Lotus, Hassan became a household name with a song about how his wife had reacted in Tamil when she saw him with an another girl.
He toured throughout South Africa and became one of the first local Indian artists to stage a show at the then biggest entertainment venue in southern Africa, the Sun City.
The song remains a favourite of bands playing at Indian weddings here, decades later.
Like almost all South African Indian musicians, Hassan could not afford to depend financially on his performances only, so he also had business interests alongside the singing profession.