The official send-off of world-renowned musician, Ray Phiri, may have come and gone, but for his family, friends and fans, the reality of his departure may only be starting now.
When Phiri's body arrived at the family home in Crocodile Valley, in Mpumalanga, on Friday, one of his children said their father's death was "really starting to sink in".
Phiri's best friend and brother, Paul Nkanyane who was also the family spokesperson said: "I've been up and down since his death communicating with the media and making sure things are going smoothly ahead of his burial, now it has really hit home that he is gone. Now we have to deal with a lot of first times with him. It's tough and it will get even tougher, but we will take it each day as it comes."
To Phiri, Nkanyane said, "Now my, brother, go on and rest in peace".
His close friends were no exception. Speaking to HuffPost SA after the funeral, Rebecca Malope said Phiri's death has robbed the province of Mpumalanga of gold.
Like Phiri, Malope, real name Batsogile Lovederia Malope, was also born and bred in Nelspruit.
She told HuffPost SA on Saturday that Phiri was a brother to her and she will miss him greatly. "I am saddened by his death. I will always remember him by his jokes and funny personality. His dance moves were the best. May his soul rest in peace. We have lost a giant and a one of a kind performer in BraRay," Malope said.
She challenged young artists to take the baton from where Phiri left off.
"Young people, I hope you have learnt from the life Ray led. I hope you will make it your mission to finish off his unfinished story and keep his legacy alive. His life was a story and I do hope you have taken notes. It's in your hands now," she said.
Head of the South African Football Association (Safa) in Mpumalanga, Gay Mokoena, said Phiri was a humble man who put others first.
"He loved football and we often went to watch games together at the Mbombela Stadium. I still feel like it's a dream that he's gone, but hopefully, with time it will be better. I trust his family will also find strength in knowing that he is free from pain," Mokoena said.
Phiri died of lung cancer at the Nelspruit Mediclinc on July 12.
Businessman and friend to Phiri, Sabelo Mahlalela was emotional speaking about Phiri. He said he was blessed to have crossed paths with Phiri.
"I worked with him when he produced his album, "11 years". I really miss him. He was a great man," Mahlalela said.
Phiri was buried at the Hero's Acre following a funeral service at the Mbombela Stadium. He is survived by his wife, Rabelani and 10 children.Suggest a correction