By - Usman Sanusi
Lucky Dube was born on a small farm near Ermelo in the eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga). Sarah, his mother, considered his birth after a few unsuccessful pregnancy attempts. She felt so fortunate that she had to name him “Lucky”. She had separated from her husband before Lucky’s birth and was therefore the only breadwinner in the family. She had to leave Lucky and her other two children, Thandi and Patrick, in the care of her mother. She earned so little in her job as a domestic worker that she struggled to send money back home for her children. In his youth, Lucky lived with many different family members, singing in bars and in church. When Lucky started attending school, he joined a choir and with some friends, formed a band called The Skyway Band. However, they could not afford to purchase instruments. Eventually, Lucky was able to write a play which he and his bandmates performed, earning enough money to buy a guitar and they played in the mbaqanga style.
Lucky later joined Richard Siluma’s Love Brothers, two years after Skyway’s formation,. He stayed with them for several years, before switching to reggae in the early 1980s. His first major success in that field came at the influential Sunsplash festival in Jamaica.
At the age of 18 he joined ‘The Love Brothers’ – his cousin’s band which played Zulu pop music known as mbaqanga. The band signed with Teal Record Company, under Richard Siluma (Teal was later incorporated into Gallo Record Company).
The band recorded material in Johannesburg during his school holidays.
Dube was murdered in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville on the evening of 18 October 2007. Dube is survived by his mother Sara, wife Zanele and seven children, one brother and three sisters. In a 1999 interview, he described his grandmother as “his greatest love” who “multiplied many things to bring up this responsible individual that he was.
In 1989 he won four OKTV Awards for Prisoner, won another for Captured Live the following year and yet another two for House of Exile the year after
In 1996 he was named the Best Selling African Recording Artist at the World Music Awards
International Artist of the Year at the Ghana Music Awards
His next three albums each won South African Music Awards
His debut album was released under the name Lucky Dube and the Supersoul. The second album was released soon afterwards, and this time Dube wrote some of the lyrics in addition to singing. It was around this same time that he started learning how to speak the English language.
On the release of his fifth Mbaqanga album, Dave Segal (who became Dube’s sound engineer) encouraged him to drop the “Supersoul” element of the name. He used to perform reggae songs during live concerts. He felt the socio-political messages associated with Jamaican reggae were relevant to a South African audience in an institutionally racist society.
In 1984, he released the mini akbun Rastas Never Die. The apartheid regime banned the album in 1985, because of its critical lyrics, for instance in the song “War and Crime”.
However, he was not discouraged and continued to perform the reggae tracks live and wrote and produced a second reggae album. Think About The Children (1985). It achieved platinum sales status and established Dube as a popular reggae artist in South Africa, in addition to attracting attention outside his homeland.
He was featured in the feature films Voice in the Dark, Getting Lucky and Lucky Strikes Back.
He strictly refused to smoke ganja, drink alcohol or use any other drug in order to be a good example for his children and the youth.
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