Open main menu

Dorothy Masuka (3 September 1935, Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) – 23 February 2019, Johannesburg, South Africa[2]) was a Zimbabwe-born South African jazz singer.

Dorothy Masuka
Dorothy Masuka.jpg
Background information
Born (1935-09-03) 3 September 1935 (age 84)[1]
Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
Died23 February 2019(2019-02-23) (aged 83)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Years active1951–2019

Early lifeEdit

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.

Music careerEdit

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.[3] 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.[3] Many of her songs are in the Ndebele language or Sindebele languages.

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.[4]

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".[5]

Dorothy Masuka died in Johannesburg on 23 February 2019, aged 83.[2]


  1. ^ Zindi, Fred (22 March 2011). "Dorothy Masuka: Age-old inspiration". The Herald. Zimbabwe. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  2. ^ a b Veteran Zimbabwe Jazz Maestro Dorothy Masuka Dies: VOA Zimbabwe website. Retrieved on 23 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b 1952-, Sheldon, Kathleen E. (2005). Historical dictionary of women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810853310. OCLC 56967121.
  4. ^ "Dorothy Masuka's life to be captured in film". Bulawayo24. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  5. ^ Bilawsky, Dan, "The Jazz Epistles Featuring Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya At The Town Hall", All About Jazz, 1 May 2017.

External linksEdit