WINDHOEK – Just as the music industry was coming to terms with the shocking passing on of Zimbabwe’s internationally acclaimed multi-talented folk singer/guitarist, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi – another iconic muso is no more.
Africa, and indeed the entire musical world woke up to the sad news that veteran jazz singer and songwriter, Dorothy Masuku, has passed on aged 83 at her home in Jozi, on Saturday surrounded by close family members. The fourth of seven siblings, Dorothy was born on September 3, 1935 in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe’s) second largest city, Bulawayo, to a South African Zulu mother and Lozi father, a hotel chef by trade. She started her marathon musical journey at an early age.
Hardly out of her school uniform, she took the courage to single handedly try her luck in the dog-eat-dog business of live music when she traveled to the gold city of bright lights Johannesburg, South Africa by rail to launch her musical career. An accomplished songwriter, backed by big bands during live gigs, the girl with the golden voice would mostly sing about life and hardship in the townships in the 1950s.
Exiled Namibian salted journalist, historian and political activist, Edward “Ted” Ndopu, who now resides in Canada is well placed to describe the amazing musical journey of the departed adorable songbird. “Once upon a time, my old man would consistently purchase little vinyl records, singles and long plays (LP). One day here comes Auntie Dorothy to our house more humble than a kapana seller. At the time, Zambia had its difficulties but for exilees it was Egoli!
“I met and rubbed shoulders with icons but Aunt Dorothy touched my heart with her humbleness. May her soul rest in peace”, wrote the uncompromising political activist on his twitter account. Despite her unquestioned talent and musical virtuosity, Mama Masuku endured a fair share of political harassment during an otherwise flawless musical career.
The latter was given marching orders from her native Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) - this after she sang at the inauguration of the slain Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) leader, Patrice Lumumba. Her hit song, Dr Malan, was banned in South Africa by the vicious Apartheid authorities.