UKZN honours late maskandi queen Busi Mhlongo

2011-04-14 00:00

AFFECTIONATELY known as the queen of modern Zulu music, the late Busi Mhlongo managed to turn maskandi into a world phenomenon. For her contribution, the University of KwaZulu-Natal has conferred an honorary doctorate in music on her posthumously.

Receiving the doctorate on her behalf during a graduation ceremony at the Westville campus yesterday morning, advocate Dali Mpofu said the history and character of South African music cannot be truthfully told without mentioning Busi Mhlongo.

“The pioneering work she did in transcending the gender divide by becoming the first woman to cross over and conquer maskandi music, which was until then regarded as the exclusive domain of male artists, is the stuff legends are made of. If one of the definitions of leadership is daring to break new ground, then she was a leader par excellence.”

Mpofu who was asked by Mhlongo’s daughter to accept the award on the family’s behalf, told how the first of an intended series of annual concerts to honour icons of South African music, dubbed Vuka Sizwe Concerts, and which was staged while he was with the SABC, solidified a personal friendship and an eternal bond between him and “Mam’Busi”.

“She was later to tell me repeatedly that that was the happiest day of her life. She was unable to express her gratitude for being honoured at home and while she was still alive …

“There is nobody I have known who had such a capacity to love others and express that love with such impactful repetition. She loved this land and its people,” Mpofu said.

The concert ran concurrently with Mhlongo’s 60th birthday. It was also used to raise awareness about breast cancer. With the proceeds, she was bought a return ticket to the United States, her last trip overseas to see her only daughter and her grandchildren.

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