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Dorothy Masuka

Dorothy Masuka returns to East Africa to headline Zanzibar festival

Veteran singer Dorothy Masuka will be one of the headlining acts for this year’s Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) music series, to be hosted nightly at the island’s Mambo Club.

Born in Zimbabwe in 1935, at 19 Masuka moved to South Africa in search of stardom as a jazz singer. Her songs including ‘Dr Malan’ and ‘Patrice Lumumba’ angered apartheid authorities and led her into exile in Tanzania (then Tanganyika) in 1961. Here she joined forces with another South African singer, Miriam Makeba, with whom she toured Tanzania galvanizing audiences towards the liberation struggle. In 1963 during Kenya’s independence celebrations they sang the evergreen ode to Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, called ‘Pole Mzee’. Together they left Africa for exile, travelling as Tanzanians, just like Nelson Mandela did during the struggle.

Now aged 79, in Zanzibar Masuka is expected to meet with government leaders, including the Second Vice President of Zanzibar, and will be a guest at both the Launch and Opening ceremonies of ZIFF on Saturday 18 July. On 19 July Masuka will perform at the Old Fort. While in Zanzibar she will rehearse and perform with the THT Band, many of whose members were not even born during Mama Dorothy Masuka’s heyday!

Masuka is expected to also visit Dar es Salaam, where plans are underway to enable her to meet with Mama Maria Nyerere, who is well known to her from her struggle days. Local impresario Ruge Mutahaba of Clouds Media is currently looking at the possibility of organizing a performance for the government and society leaders in Dar es Salaam.

ZIFF Director Professor Martin Mhando said: “What an honour it is for her to come to ZIFF. It just shows how much she values the role of the arts in society. We would love for her to meet with President Shein of Zanzibar as the President is an ardent lover of the arts and is known to admire veteran artists like the Zanzibar icon Bibi Siti bint Saad.”

Masuka is being accompanied by Khethi Ntshangase of the Music Managers Forum, who explained: “Zanzibar International Film Festival 2015 will hold a special focus on South Africa featuring a series of South African films, and a strong delegation of acclaimed actors, producers and directors. I will be escorting legendary jazz singer/songwriter/social activist Mama Dorothy Masuka. The festival has invited her as a ‘valued living legend in Africa’ and Special Guest of Honour of the acclaimed festival and the president of Zanzibar. She will travel and perform with exceptionally talented guitarist Bheki Khoza for a collaboration with Zanzibari musicians to produce what promises to be an exciting performance on the spice island.”

Tickets for Dorothy Masuka’s performance on 19  July, as well as all other ZIFF events can be purchased via ZIFF’s online ticketing platform. To keep up to date visit the ZIFF website or Facebook page.