Siphiwo Desmond Ntshebe was born 28 June 1974 in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.
Siphiwo, aged only 35 years, died very suddenly from acute meningitis on Tuesday 25 May 2010 at Livingston Hospital in Port Elizabeth.
The shock of the tragic death of our dear friend, brother and colleague has left us, and all who knew him, completely devastated, by the loss of a truly great man.
Siphiwo (known to many as Sip or Dez) had a giant personality and a giant voice. The voice, an unique and exceptional voice, profoundly touched everyone who heard it. With his voice Siphiwo brought inspiration and comfort to all who heard him. Siphiwo's voice has often been compared to other great opera singers, but the reality is that his voice was unique. The power of his high notes was incomparable, his vocal range was extraordinary and he achieved a technical vocal mastery that was a wonder to all.
Siphiwo was devoted to his family and no matter where he was in the world, he would be in constant contact with them. Siphiwo was very proud to be an African, and especially a South African. He wanted to show what was possible even, as he was, born into a very disadvantaged environment. But Siphiwo always felt so rich because of the unequivocal love of his parents - even though they had no material wealth and knew that being a musician could be very difficult, when Siphiwo declared that he wanted to be an opera singer, they supported his decision wholeheartedly.
Nelson Mandela was his hero and to have the opportunity to sing for Madiba was the highlight of Siphiwo's life.
Siphiwo's other passion was for opera - he would continually listen to the great masters of the past on old LP's. He knew the plots of the operas in every detail and he would love to recount the stories in a way that would transfix his audience. Siphiwo's life was an opera. He had the great operatic voice too.
Just at the point in his life when all Siphiwo's dreams were about to be realised, tragedy struck and a light in the world has now gone out.
Enkosi - Buthongo Benzolo