ON 23 February 2019, Dorothy Masuku (her stage name was Masuka) departed this earth.
Born in 1935 in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) to a Zambian father and South African mother, ‘Mam D‘, as she was fondly known, showed prodigious musical talent as a teenage girl and was spotted while performing in her school choir in Johannesburg.
She went on to compose and record over 30 songs before reaching adulthood.
The young Dorothy had an acute sense of justice that also came from a spiritual place and as such, her songs reflected the brutality of township life in South Africa at the dawn of the apartheid regime and the forced removals of the 1950s.
commentary in her lyrics earned her the ire of the Special Branch who destroyed
her music and she went into exile and lived and performed across the African
continent. Although there is no comprehensive discography of Masuku’s work, it
is believed that her compositions in the major African countries total over
After traveling the continent and performing in the United Kingdom, she returned to Zimbabwe but due to her political affiliations, she had to flee to Zambia where she worked as an air hostess. 16 years later, when Zimbabwe gained independence, she relocated to the country of her birth and resumed her musical career.
A true transnational African, ‘Mam Dorothy relocated to South Africa in 1992 after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
A public memorial service will be held in her honor at 12h30 on Friday, 1 March 2019 at the Joburg Theatre.
She will be laid to rest on Sunday 3 March, at West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg.