In remembrance: Sonja Canto

07 October 2019 | The UCT Executive

Dear colleagues and students

It is with great sadness that we write to inform you of the death of Ms Sonja Canto (54), a master’s student at the South African College of Music (SACM), on Tuesday morning, 1 October 2019.

Ms Canto died in a car accident while accompanying four San musicians – two of whom also died in the accident – from northern Namibia to Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport. They were on their way to catch a flight to Cape Town where they were to work with African Music students at the SACM and take part in two concerts, including the UCT Showcase – the vice-chancellor’s concert for stakeholders.

Ms Canto completed a BMus (Education) and an honours degree at UCT in the late eighties and nineties. She was overseeing the visit of the Namibian musicians at the time of her death.

They were scheduled to perform in a concert series in October with the UCT Ibuyambo ensemble. The concerts emanate from an exciting performance/research collaboration between UCT and The University Centre for Studies in Namibia. Postgraduates and undergraduate students in the African Music and Technology sections at the SACM are interacting with musical custodians of one of Africa’s most ancient cultures – the Ju/’hoansi communities of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in the Otjozondjupa Region of north-east Namibia.

The deceased San musicians, //Uce //Ui and Ncauka Giqua, were 70 and 79 years old respectively. They were two of the last custodians of a rare Ju/’hoansi pluriarc harp tradition and were to have participated in workshops in the run-up to the concert series. Their musical performances would have formed the core of the concerts.

Ms Canto has been described as a most wonderful, dedicated and great-hearted person who was loved by all who knew her. The SACM said it will honour her memory during the UCT Ibuyambo concerts taking place on 11 and 12 October 2019.

Ms Canto is survived by her mother, three brothers, two sisters and their families. The university has reached out to offer support to her family. Funeral and memorial service details have not yet been finalised.

We convey our heartfelt condolences to Ms Canto’s family, friends and all who knew her, and in the same spirit to the families and community of the two San musicians, //Uce //Ui and Ncauka Giqua.


The UCT Executive

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