Jazz performer, composer and recipient of the National Order of Ikhamanga, Dorothy Masuka has passed away at the age of 83.
Mama Masuka passed away on Saturday after more than 50 years of being feted globally as an artist whose performances directed the spotlight at the injustices of apartheid, said the Presidency in a statement on Sunday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa described Mama Masuka’s passing away as a significant loss to the cultural heritage of South Africa and the continent and offered his condolences to her family and friends in South Africa and elsewhere.
“Another golden voice in the chorus line of our nation has been silenced with the passing of Mama Dorothy Masuka. She belonged to a generation of artists who transcended boundaries in art and politics long before we coined the concept of globalisation.
“Mama Dorothy was part of a cohort of performers – notably women – who were driven by wanting to create a better society and a better world. Mama Dorothy’s voice and poetry took us on stirring, uplifting and agitating journeys through the human experience.
“While the spotlight of stages all around the world were trained in her, she shone a light on the joys and struggles of life across the lines of race, class and nationality that were so starkly entrenched in the world and era in which she first emerged as an artistic force,” said the President.
Masuka was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for excellent achievement in and contribution to music composition and performance.
Born in Zimbabwe in 1935, she moved to South Africa with her family when she was 12 and needed treatment for health issues.
She started out as a performer at the age of 16 and developed into an accomplished songwriter and internationally acclaimed artist in the course of half a century.
The Presidency said her music challenged the apartheid state and she was outspoken offstage on a range of social and political issues in South Africa and around the continent.
President Ramaphosa called on South Africans to celebrate Mama Dorothy’s life and legacy and to emulate the resilience with which she conducted her life and career into the advanced years of her life.