JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South African jazz legend and activist Dorothy Masuka died at the age of 83 on Saturday.
The revered musician, who sang hits such as “Hamba Nontsokolo” and “Lendaba”, was born and raised in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. She travelled to Johannesburg by train as a teenager to launch her music career.
A celebrated songwriter, Masuka sang about township life in the 1950s, accompanied by big bands.
The governing African National Congress said Masuka was a revolutionary who used her music to spread the message of liberation from the apartheid regime.
”We dip our banners in remembrance of this giant whose music transcended generations and inspired many during the height of apartheid. Born in Zimbabwe and launched her professional music career in South Africa, her travels to Malawi, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and Zambia made her a true citizen of the world, deeply committed to the struggles to liberate the peoples of Africa,” the ANC said in a statement.
”She was a South African patriot who loved the country and her people dearly. There is no doubt that she occupied a special place in the hearts of South Africans across generations and her music continues to inspire the nation.”
News of her death was confirmed by her family late on Saturday, who said she spent her last moments at home, surrounded by those close to her.
“She was in the comfort of her home surrounded by her children and grandchildren,” said family spokesperson Fortune Hute.
Masuka had been suffering from complications related to hypertension, after suffering a mild stroke last year.
One of the “MaGumede” hitmaker’s last stage performances was at Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral last year.
In the wake of the news fans poured onto Twitter to share images and memories of the star.
Some remembered the impact her music had on their lives, while others said she was finally reunited with her old friends Dolly Rathebe and Miriam Makeba.
Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said Ma Dorothy’s music lit up many souls in their darkest hours.
“A baobab tree has fallen with the passing of a one of a kind musician, the legendary Mama Dorothy Masuka. Her music was the soundtrack of some of our most joyful moments and the light of our souls during our darkest hours. Lala ngoxolo Mama wethu,” he wrote.