Carlos Djedje The Pioneer of Reggae in Africa Dies at 73

Carlos Djedje

The Founding Father of South African Reggae Dies at 73

The Man who was considered the pioneer of Reggae Music in Africa, performing and recording long before world renowned artists from the continent like Lucky Dube and Ivorian Alpha Blondy, passed away at the age of 73.

Carlos Djedje 31 January 1950 – 18 December 2023

Carlos Djedje, indisputably, the South African father of reggae rose to prominence in a politically charged climate at the height of Apartheid. With albums titled Remember Them, No Apartheid and Ahoy Africa, it was to be expected that his music would be banned by the Apartheid government. His music highlighted the brutality and inhumane racial segregation, oppression of the rights, movements, and freedom of black people in their own land.

Carlos Djedje and Peter Tosh
Carlos Djedje and Peter Tosh

The Mozambique-born, Tshwane-based Reggae legend boosted a career that spans more than four decades, recording and performing reggae music as early as the 1970’s. His landmark performances include sharing the stage with Jimmy Cliff in Soweto in 1980 and in the same year in Zimbabwe at the memorable Zim Independence headlined by Bob Marley and the Wailers; in 1983 he performed alongside the great Peter Tosh in Swaziland. Elder Carlso Djedje was also part of the line up of the greatest Reggae Show ever staged in South Africa, The Reggae Strong for Peace Concert organised by Lucky Dube and Richard Siluma. In 2016 he was guest of the Jamaican government at an official ceremony to celebrate Marcus Garvey birthday and performed at Irie FM’s Annual Garvey Day Celebration. He has also worked with reggae greats like Marley Family, Eric Donaldson and Don Carlos. Over the years he and his backing band The Protectors have performed in international festivals like Penang World music in Malaysia, African festival in Wurzburg, Germany. He has also performed in Spain, UK and Denmark, Japan, Mozambique and Botswana.

In 2017 he was honoured by the by the City of St. Ann’s Bay in Jamaica for his contribution to reggae music. He was a guest of the government at an official ceremony to celebrate Garvey on his birthday on August 17. On August 21, he was the guest performer on Irie FM’s Garvey Day Celebration. Prior to that, in the very same year, the Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of Performing Arts (Musical Theatre) honored him with a special tribute by staging the first ever reggae musical called ‘The musical, King inna de Jungle’ to chronicle the legends life.

Carlos Djedje - King inna De Jungle

In 2016 in collaboration with the South African State Theatre, Elder Carlos staged the Reggae Explosion concert series where he shared the stage and created a platform for upcoming artists and other established reggae artists in the country.

In January 2017 Elder Carlos was hospitalized for a brief period but he came out well and strong and was able to continue with his artivism.

The elder remained active in the industry, even when the political and cultural landscape had changed, he turned his focus mostly on educating and guiding upcoming artists. His passing marks the end of an era, for someone who lived to fullfil his goals. His music was not just for entertainment, but a powerful tool for social change and activism. Condolences to his family.

Some of his DIscography

Ahoy Afrika – 1988, with the Prisoners
No Apartheid – 1993
Born in the Ghetto – 1983
Jah Hu Akbaar – 1983
Children Children – 1988 with The Prisoners
Black Supremacy – 2018
Make it Burn them – 2020 – Ft Patrick Bokaba, Dr Rea Malatji
Universal Peace Keeper – 2020 -FT. . Greg Georgiades, Tim Parr, Patrick Bokaba
Remember Them  



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