BY SHARON SIBINDI
prominent local poet-cum-musician Albert Nyathi has bemoaned lack of media attention on the death of Zimbabwe-born Afro-jazz icon Dorothy Masuka, whose life is being celebrated in South Africa.
Masuka died last week on Saturday at the age of 83.
Auntie Dot, as Masuka was popularly known in music circles, was born in Bulawayo’s Old Pumula suburb before she left for South Africa at the age of 12 where she made a name for herself in the music industry where she rubbed shoulders with the late Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.
Nyathi told Standard Style that Masuka’s death lacked media attention in her country of birth.
“It’s shocking that Dorothy, a girl from Old Pumula who is an icon of Africa, is much talked about in South Africa than in her country of birth,” Nyathi said.
“The local media is not making noise as they have done over others who have passed away.
“Such people are our early heroes, not just arts though, but politics. Masuka was or is an African icon in terms of her contribution to the overall struggle in Africa in general. Not just Southern Africa, but in Africa as a whole. Dorothy, during the 1960s, when she was young, did a lot to stimulate interest in the liberation struggle.”
Nyathi said Masuka deserves a hero status for her contribution to the music industry as well as African emancipation.
“I think if you were to talk to Kenneth Kaunda today, he will tell you this is a woman who deserves to be a hero. I equally think so that she really deserves to be a national hero, perhaps beyond national hero,” Nyathi said.
“Since she’s a South African, I think she will be given a good send-off. I am hoping to go and I should be there, because if I fail, my conscience will be upon me and attack me for many years to come if I fail to see her off.”
Nyathi said he did not interact with Masuka in her youth, but he managed to meet her when she was reaching her zenith.
“When I was with her, I felt like I was with my own aunty, because she said things an aunt would say. About growing up, being serious with work particularly music, I did not have enough time with her as I would have wanted. The moments I was with her, is when she could come when I was with the National Arts Council and she was just passionate about music and passing on to younger people, working with younger people,” she said.
“I remember her working with Paul Lunga, Sam Mataure and other musicians, particularly the young artistes. She would come, fly down, have a band playing for her, chit-chat a bit and above all, she was an aunt.
“I think that in some way, unaware of it, when I wrote the poem My Son, it may have been influenced by her”.
Nyathi said Masuka advised him on the dangers of the arts industry.
“She warned me to be careful when it comes to girlfriends or partners, saying there were many beautiful girls out there ready to pounce on artistes,” he said.