Dorothy Masuka

Dorothy Masuka

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Dorothy Masuka

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Dorothy Masuka was born on the 3rd of September,1935 in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was a Zimbabwe-born South African jazz singer. She was born in Bulawayo, the fourth of seven children, and her mother was Zulu while her fathe

Dorothy Masuka was born on the 3rd of September,1935 in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was a Zimbabwe-born South African jazz singer.

She was born in Bulawayo, the fourth of seven children, and her mother was Zulu while her father was a Zambian hotel chef. Still, she attended a Catholic school deemed good by the standards of education allowed blacks. Her family moved to South Africa when she was 12 due to her health. By the time she was 19 she was touring in South Africa with singers she had admired as a girl.

Masuka's music was popular in South Africa throughout the 1950s, but when her songs became more serious, the government began questioning her. Her song "Dr. Malan," mentioning difficult laws, was banned and in 1961 she sang a song for Patrice Lumumba, which led to her exile.This exile lasted 31 years in total during which she lived in Zambia and worked as a flight attendant. She returned to Zimbabwe in 1980 after independence. Many of her songs are in the Ndebele language or Sindebele languages.

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Dorothy Masuka died in Johannesburg on 23 February 2019, aged 83.

Several artistes, including Sipho ‘Hotstic Mabuse, founder of Joy of Jazz Peter Tladi, Dumi Ramadu of Insingizi and others posted condolence messages on social media mourning her death.

"We are very thankful for the great work she gave us," wrote Mabuse in one of the social media platforms.

In his farewell message, Ramadu wrote on Tweeter, “RIP Gogo Dorothy Masuka. Thank you for the Music.”

Radio personality Ezra ‘Tshisa’ Sibanda posted pictures of him posing with Masuka on Facebook with a message, which read in part, “…Another amazing lady, a wonderful musician and certainly a national treasure has been taken away from us just like that. 2019 has been a horrible year for music and arts industry. She will be sadly missed MHDSRIP.”

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Born: September 3, 1935 in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) , Zimbabwe



See Awards »

Dorothy Masuka was given the Arts & Culture Trust Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Personal Details

In August 2011, Dorothy Masuka and Mfundi Vundla, creator of the popular South African soap opera Generations, confirmed plans to make a film of Masuka's life. The film would concentrate on the years 1952 to 1957.

On 27 April 2017 she featured in the concert "The Jazz Epistles featuring Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya" at The Town Hall, New York City, opening the show and delivering "one passionate performance after another, warming up and winning over the crowd".

In August 2011, Dorothy Masuka and Mfundi Vundla, creator of the popular South African soap opera Generations, confirmed plans to make a film of Masuka's life. The film would concentrate on the years 1952 to 1957.

On 27 April 2017 she featured in the concert "The Jazz Epistles featuring Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya" at The Town Hall, New York City, opening the show and delivering "one passionate performance after another, warming up and winning over the crowd".

Masuka's song Dr. Malan, questioning racial segregation, was banned in South Africa. Dr. Malan is the South African leader who formed an exclusively Afrikaner government in 1948 and instituted the policy of apartheid. The policy resulted in the displacement of Africans from their homelands due to his government’s enforcement of racial segregation.

Masuka’s song, Hamba Nontsokolo, is widely regarded in the music industry as the one that launched her career. 

Some of her top hits included Imali yami, El Yow (Phatha Phatha), Magumede, Nhinkirikiri, Dr. Malan, Khawuleza and Chimanga featuring the Job’s Combination.


Did You Know?

Masuka died following complications related to hypertension