TRIBUTES have been paid to a father-of-four who brought musical inspiration to 50,000 school children and led a well-known Sheffield choir.
More than 200 people attended a memorial to Mandla Sibanda at The Circle in Rockingham Lane in the city centre on Saturday.
They praised his talent for building bridges between the community where he grew up in Zimbabwe and his adopted home in Sheffield.
The 38-year-old had lived in Sheffield permanently since 2001, working with more than 180 schools through education charity SEMEA’s Shifting Sands programme, which reached 50,000 children.
He used his music and dance skills to capture the youngsters’ attention and helped introduce them to African cultures and traditions.
He also led the city’s SOSA-XA choir for 12 years, had been part of African dance group Sunduza and studied communications at Sheffield Hallam University.
Philip Weiss, who worked alongside Mandla both in Africa and Sheffield, said: “His memory shall live on through activities that have proved unique in this community and he has shown us all how to work together.
“He could lead a community group one day, be working with junior managers of Barclays Banks the next and infants the day after that. He did much work with special needs students where his compassion was infinite. A giving that was always unconditional and they all experienced the joy from his giving – very few of us could manage that.
“Mandla gave everything to the community through a strong concept of Ubuntu – ‘I am because you are’.”
Mandla collapsed and was found dead in woodland known locally as Crabtree Ponds, off Barnsley Road on the approach to the Northern General Hospital, last week.
An inquest into his death has been opened and adjourned. He will be laid to rest near his family home in Zimbabwe.