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South Africa’s Singing Surgeon: Heart Surgeon Dr Wilhelm Calls For Unity With “Ndikhokhele Bawo” Hymn

  • 3 min read

“We need hope. We need guidance and we need each other. Now more than ever! We are fighting a battle against a virus which has forced our struggling economy to its knees even further and has completely overwhelmed our health services. The challenges we face are legion.”

So says the Cape heart surgeon, Dr Wilhelm Lichtenberg. With the release of his latest single, the traditional prayer Ndikhokhele Bawo (Lead me, O Father), South Africa’s Singing Surgeon launches a metaphorical appeal to South Africans to stand together and support each other in this extremely trying period in everyone’s lives.

In this moving recording of the Xhosa version of the song, he adds his well-oiled tenor voice to that of the soprano Nombulelo Yende and the world-famous Tygerberg Children’s Choir. The result is an African classical gourmet dish for a music connoisseur.

Watch the video here:

In the accompanying video, the doctor, who grew up in the Free State and is fluent in Sesotho, encourages South Africans in the language he learned to speak as a child to seek solitude and draw hope from the power of Prayer.

The doctor’s wife was recently discharged from hospital and is convalescing at home in his care. She was critically ill with Covid and spent more than a week in the intensive care unit with respiratory failure.

“When you lie awake at night, wondering if you will ever see the person you love again, it irrevocably changes your outlook on life. It is only grace that I have her back and my gratitude knows no bounds. “

He is currently recovering himself after contracting the virus and, being immunocompromised, is convinced that without the vaccine he received in March, he would not have survived the disease.

Lichtenberg’s album Tale van my Hart, was nominated for a SAMA award in 2020, an achievement unheard of for a debut album. The album’s title track, which he recorded with award-winning singer and songwriter Stef Bos, was a big hit and firmly established his reputation in the music world.

Lichtenberg created a song last year with the well-known Cape Town soprano Britney Smith, in which the country’s health workers are praised and thanked for their heroic efforts to assist and care for the afflicted in the midst of the pandemic. The video of the song made headlines worldwide and attracted nearly three-quarters of a million viewers on social media. The song was written by Riaan Steyn, Cape Town composer, arranger and music producer, and the mastermind behind all of Lichtenberg’s recordings. The lyrics for the song flowed from the pen of another musical medicine man, Dr Martin Young, who is an ENT surgeon in Knysna.

Lichtenberg also released a recording of Koos du Plessis’ evergreen Somerkersfees at the end of last year with the South African Youth Choir, the Tygerberg Children’s Choir and the legendary Amanda Strydom. This project was undertaken to raise funds for drought relief.

The Singing Surgeon certainly does not shy away from a challenge and he has embarked on an ambitious new project to raise funds for corrective surgery for indigent children with heart disease in Southern Africa. He has joined forces with a global music icon in Steyn’s spectacular arrangement of the Queen megahit song Who Wants To Live Forever and the recording will be released within the coming weeks to coincide with the launch of the Young Hearts Africa Foundation.