Auntie Dotie: Africa's greatest songstresses

HARARE - Tributes continue to pour for veteran jazz singer Dorothy Masuku who died on Saturday at the age of 83. The songstress had been suffering from complications related to hypertension after a mild stroke last year. Her family said she spent her last moments at home, surrounded by those close to her.



Arts publicist Blessing Vava

It’s sad that we are losing legends that have helped shape our music and culture, not even a month had passed after losing Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi and Charles Mungoshi and yet again the thief called death snatched this beautiful voice and soul Auntie Dot. Instead of us mourning, we have to celebrate the life and contribution made by Dorothy Masuku, the consciousness, beautiful lyrics and rhymes she delivered through her powerful voice which remain engraved in our history. Her music cuts across borders, races, tribes and indeed Africa has lost a legend.


Social analyst Rejoice Ngwenya

Zimbabwean music lovers are facing the reality of losing the first generation musical icons. Not many are left. What we need is to complete the Museum of Performance Arts so that these institutions are not lost forever.


Jazz musician Filbert Marova

I had the privilege to play piano for Auntie Dot each time she came to Zimbabwe on tour in the mid to late 90s. She knew exactly what she wanted one to play when it came to her music. She was an exceptionally gifted singer whose shoes are way too big for anyone to fit in. You fought a good fight Auntie Dot. Rest in peace!


PR practitioner Munya Simango

The grand damme and trailblazer of Zimbabwean music has gone. This is a sad time for us. She will always be remembered for being the role model to the many generations of women who followed her lead to venture into music. I am grateful for the gift of music that she left us.


Broadcaster Lovemore Banda

Once again we lose a personality and once again we are making more noise about them the departed than we did when they were part of us. We didn't answer him when he was alive and so Tuku's question still stands today: 'Do you have to die to be a hero?' Zimbabwe needs to give an answer to that question.


Lawyer and politician Obert Gutu

The late Dorothy Masuku, was a consummate and sanguine Afro-Jazz maestro who was blessed with a soulful voice that could easily touch the very centre of people's hearts. She was not only a beauty queen in her prime as she was crowned Miss Mzilikazi in Bulawayo in 1953, but she was also a talented composer and singer. We can never forget the legendary song Pata Pata that was even made more popular after the late Miriam Makeba's rendition of the same song was released. Aunite Dot, as she was fondly called, will be remembered as one of Africa's greatest songstresses. On stage she was not only elegant and flamboyant, but she was also funny and hilarious. She was an artist from the top drawer. She will be sadly and sorely missed. May her departed soul rest in power!


Musician Clive Malunga

Our dear sister sang in Shona, Ndebele and English. She really touched the hearts of many. She also appealed to all age groups. She was a darling when she was on stage; she had all the techniques to capture her audience. She introduced me to Don Laka and Jonasi Gwangwa, when I went to South Africa, to join Tusk Records, a subsidiary of Gallo Records. She played a very big part, by showing me where to go and which recording company to join. It was a sister brother affair.


Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme

She is yet another legend who has gone. With over 40 years of a flourishing music career, she will be remembered for her songs against Apartheid injustice and jazzy fusions. She joins departed stars like Hugh Masekela, Lucky Dube and Oliver Mtukudzi. Africa is poorer without her.


Singer and sculptor Bryn Taurai Mteki

We mourn the death of a Music Giant yet another national icon in form of a Heroin Auntie Dot as I used call her, this I say is a major blow to our music industry coming so soon after the passing of the great Samanyanga, Oliver Tuku Mtukudzi , this is so sad all our seniors whom we as musicians looked up to are departing leaving a big void which irreplaceable.


Takemore Mazuruse

Auntie Dotie was no commoner. She was a musician of note and not even the imposed African political boundaries could deter her sound and hard hitting message in the pre-independence era. Not only was she revered in Zimbabwe and South Africa but globally thanks to her rich sound and professional touch. An amazing performer and committed proponent of the African Renaissance, her music brought her some politically motivated troubles from the rulers of the times but it played a big role in awakening our people to the possibilities of self-rule. Her departure certainly leaves us a lot poorer but we are inspired by her attributes and influence. Africa has indeed lost a daughter and we commiserate with her family and loved ones. Her milestones over time certainly prove our mantra that where excellence and productivity are put to good use, success comes in.


Media practitioner Nigel Nyamutumbu

The creative and music industry has once again been robbed of a legend. Auntie Dot was a gentle giant, a human rights defender and a voice of reason. She was a humble character, who could relate to everyone. Her music inspired black consciousness and would touch hearts. The current crop of musicians has a lot to learn from the illustrious careers of these legends. May her soul rest in peace!


Arts promoter Biggie Chinoperekwei

I remember in 2011 when I was awarded the Arts Promoter of the Year at the National Merit Awards (NAMA) and had a rare encounter with Auntie Dot who was to present me with the gong. She gave me some words of advice on the promotion of the arts, especially the need to nurture young talents. She said there was nothing more rewarding than to invest in young talents and affording them the platform to perform and shine. As I heard about her passing on, I could see her bright face and hear her words of wisdom which she gave me on that day. Today I still cherish that encounter and the award she presented to me. I always endeavour to follow through her advice.


Politician Harry Peter Wilson

We lost a true gallant leader of world of music. We mourn a dear legend we lived with and loved her music expression which was true isiNdebele . I still have memories of a concert she held at White City stadium where she shared the staged with Brenda Fassie, both were great players.  We ask the people of the South to mourn with us and remember our beautiful sister. We in Bulawayo are at a loss of words.


Writer Virginia Phiri

Last memories of you are of your great performance at Orlando Stadium, South Africa on 14 April 2018 clad in blue when I attended the memorial of Winnie Mandela.


Media practitioner Suzan Makore

She is an icon and was instrumental in mentoring many young women across the southern African region. Aunty Dot is a role model for many women and an embodiment of hard work and commitmen


Nhimbe Trust, Bluez Café mourn ‘Auntie Dot’

NHIMBE Trust and Bluez Café joined people of Bulawayo and the world in mourning the passing of Dorothy Masuku, fondly known as ‘Auntie Dot’, of humble beginnings in this her birthplace of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, who left in her youth to pursue education and music in South Africa, followed by a dazzling career over six decades, in which she reached the world.

She was performing from the age of 19.  She passed away aged 83 on 23 February 2019.  Her song Dr Malan was banned. She lived in exile for 31 years until Zimbabwean Independence, working hard.  She travelled the globe from Johannesburg to New York and Lusaka to London, and was loved and celebrated by jazz lovers all over the world. 

On April 27 2017, at the age of 81, she performed with the Jazz Epistles, featuring famed South African jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim & the band Ekaya at a concert at ‘The Town Hall’ in New York City. 

“…octogenarian vocalist Dorothy Masuku took to the stage to open the show with some help from a band that included bass icon Bakithi Kumalo. Masuku—one of the most influential South African voices of her generation, and a woman who spent three decades in exile because she dared to address injustice in her music and sing to the truth—lit up the stage with her positivity and uplifting spirit. … Masuku delivered one passionate performance after another, warming up and winning over the crowd.”-

She was hugely admired and respected by music-lovers and musicians alike.  Zimbabwe heaved a national sigh and tug of the heart at the news of her passing, as memories and tributes poured in.   

Dorothy Masuku may be gone from us but will never be forgotten.  Her legacy has already borne fruit and continues in the women she inspired through her life.  Also out of Bulawayo and following in her footsteps to reach the world, are a number of gifted women artists of a proud Ndebele background who have followed her lead to work hard and grow - Busi Ncube now in Norway for many years (performing and recording), Dudu Manhenga (performing, teaching, pastoring) and Edith Katiji (performing and musicians union chair) in Harare and also travelling abroad; and others.  The last few years have seen the emergence of the stunning five-member acapella group Nobuntu, now touring the world.

Nhimbe Trust programmes for women in the arts follow this proud example, and along with the riveting theatre production ‘Blood Tongue – The Musical’ by Nhimbe’s Women in Theatre & Television programme which toured last year, Nhimbe in partnership with veteran musician John Gara nurtured the 6-member group Afro Queens since 2016, providing space, music equipment and the teaching of instruments, musicianship and stagecraft.  They have already performed at the opening of Bluez Café in 2016, Intwasa Arts Festival twice since 2017, and other local shows, and are currently in the studio on a recording due to be released later in the year.

The Legacy of Auntie Dot continues.  May she now rest in peace!

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