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Dorothy Masuka

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Dorothy Masuka is a jazz singer who was born in Zimbabwe in 1935, then called Southern Rhodesia. She was 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 twelve due to her health. By the time she was nineteen she was touring in South Africa with singers she had admired as a girl.

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. This exile lasted thirty-one years in total. Many of her songs are in the Ndebele language or Sindebele languages.

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