Dorothy Masuka

From Pindula
Dorothy Masuka
Background information
Born(1935-09-03)3 September 1935
Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia
Died23 February 2019(2019-02-23) (aged 83)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Years active1951–2019

Dorothy Masuka was a Zimbabwe-born South African jazz musician. As a young girl, she received her schooling in South Africa and chose to stay there after graduating in order to pursue a musical career. She died on 23 February 2019.

Early life

She was born in Bulawayo, the fourth of seven children, of a Zulu mother and Zambian father. She attended a Catholic school. Her family moved to South Africa when she was 12 due to her health where she completed her school. By the time she was 19 she was already establishing her music career.

Music career

She started out in a show called African Jazz and Variety, with Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and others, imitating American jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald. Masuka's music was popular in South Africa throughout the 1950s. The government, however began questioning her for songs like "Dr. Malan," which spoke about difficult Apartheid laws. The song was banned.

She went into exile in London where she lived for many years, performing on one occasion at Wembley during Harold Wilson's election campaign. Masuka went back to Southern Rhodesia in 1965 but left again and did not return until 1980.

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.

On 27 April 2017 she featured in the concert "The Jazz Epistles featuring Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya" at The Town Hall (New York City)|The Town Hall, New York City, opening the show and delivering "one passionate performance after another, warming up and winning over the crowd".[1]


Dorothy Masuka succumbed to a stroke on 23 February 2019 in Johannesburg and was buried on 3 March in South Africa. She was 83 at the time of her death.