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I belong to Africa, says Dorothy Masuka

by Bruce Ndlovu
28 Apr 2016 at 06:55hrs | Views
DESPITE being a darling of music lovers in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa, three countries where she was resident at various points in her life, Dorothy Masuka does not have a favourite between the three nations as she believes she owes her talent and achievements to the whole of Africa.

The veteran jazz musician jetted into Bulawayo yesterday alongside fellow jazz legend and actress Abigail Kubeka for a performance at the first annual Bulawayo International Jazz Invitational tonight.

Other performers on the night are Mara Louw, Jeys Marabini, Oliver Mtukudzi and Albert Nyathi.

Born in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in September 1935, Masuka left Zimbabwe for Johannesburg at the age of 12. A rebel in her earlier years, Masuka rose to fame in the early 1950s after abandoning her education at a Catholic boarding school in Johannesburg to join Philemon Magotsi's Ink Spots in Durban at the age of 15.

She was later "caught" and sent back to Johannesburg where she ran away again, this time to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where she joined the Golden Rhythm Crooners jazz band.

Masuka went back to South Africa but later fled back to Zimbabwe after trouble with the then apartheid government. She then went to Zambia, the country of her father's birth, where she spent 16 years after being placed on a subversives list by the Ian Smith regime.

Fans in all three Sadc states have been happy to claim Masuka as their own.

"No one should ask me questions about how I find my visits to Zimbabwe because I was born in Zimbabwe. I've never felt the need to choose between the countries because I belong to Africa. I'm the Dorothy of Africa and that's all that people need to know about my identity," she said.

Masuka, who became famous for her support of liberation movements and songs grounded on the harsh realities of life in Africa, added that she felt at home wherever she went on the continent.

"Africa is not defined by a single place but the people who live in it. Throughout my travels I've always been warmly welcomed around the continent and that's why I can't choose one place as my favourite," she said.

During her visit to the country last year, Masuka said she wanted to let people know that her real surname was Masuku.

The jazz artiste explained the origins of the name, which she said came from revellers in Bulawayo when she used to perform in the city.

"The name means one who has left a certain place and gone to another and I got it because I had moved to Bulawayo from South Africa.

For years, that has been my identity but even if I try to correct it through official channels they still revert back to calling me Masuka so I gave up," she said.

Masuka dispelled the notion that jazz was a dying genre, saying promoters were at fault for the decline of genre's popularity over the decades.

"It hasn't been properly promoted because as the years have gone by, attention has been paid to other genres like rock, pop and now hip-hop. If it was given the same amount of space it would also be thriving."

Source - chronicle

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