Tuesday 3 January 2012

Dorothy Masuka - Ingalo (c1981)

Welcome back to Electric Jive!

Today we open 2012 with quite an uncommon offering — the very first LP by South African legend Dorothy Masuka.

Although recording many hits on 78 rpm for the South African Troubadour label in the 1950s, Ingalo was Masuka's first full-length album. Backed by Lovemore Majaivana and Job’s Combination, this Zimbabwe-only pressing was recorded and issued around 1981 on the Starplate label.

According to Rob Allingham, Masuka was born to parents of Lozi and Zulu origin in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1935. When she was twelve, for reasons of health, she was transferred to St. Thomas Covent, a Catholic boarding school in Johannesburg. It is here, through a connection of one of her teachers, that Troubadour talent scouts Ben Ledwaba and Cuthbert Matumba heard her performing in a school concert. By sixteen, Troubadour had arranged a contract with Masuka’s mother that gave the company a form of legal guardianship over her and, as they say… the rest is history!

Masuka’s first big hit with Troubadour was Hamba Notsokolo (Troubadour, AFC 170) recorded when she was just eighteen in 1953. This tune, a South African classic, was revisited by her at least three times during her broad career and a less well-known version is featured here as Notsokolo on the Ingalo LP.

According to Z.B. Molefe, in the book A Common Hunger To Sing, one of Masuka’s first recordings (if not the first) was Into Yam also made in 1953. This song was most famously covered by Miriam Makeba in Lionel Rogosin’s clandestine, 1959 film Come Back Africa. This is also the same tune that introduced Makeba to the United States in her first television performance on the Steve Allen show in November 1959.

Indeed some of Makeba’s biggest hits were originally Masuka compositions, most notably Phata Phata, Ha Po Zamani, Khawuleza, Kulala, Khanyange and Teya Teya to name but a few. Some of these tracks can be viewed on the post Makeba — Track Less Travelled here at Electric Jive. Masuka’s 1980s version of Teya Teya is also featured on Ingalo as Teyateya.

Troubadour at times controlled nearly 75% of the African market and Masuka was their first and biggest star — making her one of the leading South African recording artist of the 1950s. As producer for Troubadour, Cuthbert Matumba was open to recording songs that sometimes contained critical commentary, and the company occasionally drew visits from the Special Branch of the police, who often confiscated masters and copies of records. In 1961, Masuka wrote and recorded the song Lumumba, in response to the outrage over the execution of the newly elected Congolese leader. The South African Special Branch took note and confiscated the master and began searching for Masuka. In the meantime, she returned to Bulawayo and remained there on the advice of Troubadour. After the incident, Masuka was declared persona non grata by the South African authorities and was forbidden from re-entering the country. She remained in exile from South Africa for the next 31 years.

Masuka would spend the following years travelling and performing in Africa and Europe. In 1965 she returned to Rhodesia for a performance. After hearing that the Ian Smith Government was planning to arrest her, she moved to Zambia where she remained in exile for the next sixteen years as a flight attendant for Zambian airways. After Zimbabwe independence in 1981 she returned to the country and resumed her recording career with the album featured here, Ingalo.

According to the liner notes, Ingalo was Masuka’s first full-length album. (View the liner notes at flatinternational). The recording was made and produced in Zimbabwe by Crispin Matema sometime in the early 1980s. Lobegula Nkosi, a contributor to inkundla.net (#385), reveals that Jobs' Combination, was a short-lived band formed by Lovemore Majaivana and Fanyana Dube, and recorded with Masuka after their first album Istimela was released in 1980. According to Nkosi, the group soon split-up. The post also discusses Majaivana’s subsequent abandonment of his music career. View more information on Lovemore Majaivana here at Nehanda Radio.

An excellent compilation of Masuka’s early work on 78 rpm from her Troubadour period can be found on the CD reissue Hamba Notsokolo (Gallo, CDZAC60) featuring detailed notes by Rob Allingham (and from which much of the above information is drawn).

Finally, the title track of the LP, Ingalo, is one of my favorites and was also featured on one of my early all-South African mixes posted at Matsuli in December, 2008. For this occasion I have re-posted those two mixes — volume 1 and 2 — here at the flatint blog.

Dorothy Masuka and Job’s Combination
(Starplate 001, c1981)

01) Ingalo
02) Sala Ulandela
03) Nhingirikiri
04) Uyo Ndiani
05) Chimanga
06) Gelo
07) Teyateya
08) Gona Ramachingura
09) Notsokolo
10) Izono


  1. Hi Siemon,

    First of all, let me wish you an Happy New Year.
    Your first post is a pure gem!!!
    This year begins very well : currently, I am in Cape Town seeing the Spencer Mbadu's trio in Muizenberg.


  2. First of all,I would like to thank all contributors for all the fantastic music music dropped here,again,over the last year ! I remember Lovemore Majaivana and the Zulu Band having done some tracks on the A World Apart soundtrack.There was also a great track from Dorothy on the Andy Kershaw compilation,More Great Moments In Vinyl History called Ghana,that had a very interesting background,but I can not find my copy at the moment.Thanks for the drop Siemon. Koos

  3. Lovely stuff, Siemon. It looks like it'll be a very happy new year around these parts. Cheers! By the way, do you have the 1965 tracks DM recorded at the African Transcription Centre in London? See the info here:


    I snagged these songs—along with four by Patience Gcwabe—before the British Library changed the access restrictions. Let me know if you don't have this.

  4. Hi all and a very Happiiiiiiiiiii New Year too you all !! what joy you bring:
    Caught up on some of your multiple downloads that I had missed though the Christmas chaos so lots of new tunes to listen too... Thanks for the mixing and the separating ... all extra hassle for you but great to have control of what I listen to and keep as well as the joy of a long playing party session !!
    This Dorothy Masuka download is fabulous ....!! thank you! thank you! Wonderful to have access to some different songs as well as different works of a couple of favs !! definately a posting to alert other friends to !! d

  5. One of my most precious Vinyl Albums. Thanks for posting this amazing album, now I can listen to it in digital format on the road as well as at home cutting some grooves on the turntable.
    A great start to 2012. Cheers!

  6. Thanx for the upload, i had the opportunity to attend one of Dorothy's concert, one of South Africa's finest musician.

  7. hi all, has anyone got music from fanyana dube?


Electric Jive is currently receiving a deluge of spam. Apologies for the additional word verification requirement.