Legend Dorothy Masuka dies aged 83

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Jazz veteran Dorothy Masuka spent most of her life performing at home and abroad. In the 50s and 60, she used her music as a tool to highlight the plight of South Africans during apartheid. Despite being in exile for decades, Masuka never lost her ability to bring joy to people’s lives with her songs. Pictures: SOWETAN / GALLO IMAGES / Lerato Maduna /Jon Lusk / Redferns
Jazz veteran Dorothy Masuka spent most of her life performing at home and abroad. In the 50s and 60, she used her music as a tool to highlight the plight of South Africans during apartheid. Despite being in exile for decades, Masuka never lost her ability to bring joy to people’s lives with her songs. Pictures: SOWETAN / GALLO IMAGES / Lerato Maduna /Jon Lusk / Redferns

South Africans last night mourned the passing of jazz legend Dorothy Masuka, who died at the age of 83.

Singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka told City Press that Masuka had died from a stroke.

“Her music will always live on. She was among the greatest. Very sad,” Chaka said.

In a Twitter post, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa confirmed Masuka’s death.

“A baobab tree has fallen with the passing of a one-of-a-kind musician, the legendary Mama Dorothy Masuka,” he wrote alongside a photo of the late singer.

“Her music was the soundtrack of some of our most joyful moments & the light of our souls during our darkest hours.”

Local celebrities also paid tribute to the singing legend on Twitter.

Rapper and presenter ProVerb tweeted: “Deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Mama Dorothy Masuka. May her soul Rest In perfect Peace and May her music live on forever.”

Masuka was born in Bulawayo. According to Wikipedia, she was the fourth of seven children, her mother was Zulu and her father was a Zambian hotel chef.

She attended a Catholic school and her family moved to South Africa when she was 12. By the time she was 19, she was touring in South Africa with singers she had admired as a young girl.

Masuka’s music was popular in South Africa throughout the 1950s, but when her songs became more serious, the apartheid government began questioning her, according to Wikipedia.

Her song Dr Malan drew the attention of the apartheid government’s censors and was banned. In 1961, she sang a song for Democratic Republic of Congo’s prime minister Patrice Lumumba after he was assassinated. She was then forced into exile.

She was exiled for 31 years, 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 isiNdebele.

In August 2011, Masuka and Mfundi Vundla, the creator of the popular South African soapie Generations, confirmed plans to make a film of Masuka’s life, according to Wikipedia.

On April 27 2017, she was part of the Jazz Epistles featuring Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya at The Town Hall in New York City concert. She opened the show and delivered “one passionate performance after another, warming up and winning over the crowd”.

Jazz veteran Dorothy Masuka spent most of her life performing at home and abroad. In the 50s and 60, she used her music as a tool to highlight the plight of South Africans during apartheid. Despite being in exile for decades, Masuka never lost her ability to bring joy to people’s lives with her songs. Pictures: SOWETAN / GALLO IMAGES / Lerato Maduna /Jon Lusk / Redferns
SOUTH AFRICA - 1994: Legendary jazz singer Dorothy Masuka. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan)PHOTO:

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