Born Constance Magogo Sibilile Mantithi Ngangezinye kaDinuzulu, she was a Zulu Princess and artist, and mother to Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, Inkatha Freedom Party leader, South African politician and some time actor.
Princess Magogo was born in 1900, the daughter of the Zulu King, Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (1868–1913) and Queen Silomo. In 1926 she married Chief Mathole Buthelezi. Princess Magogo composed Zulu classical music and was gifted in playing isigubhu, (a stringed bow and a calabash instrument) and isithontolo (a musical instrument which is like a bow which has a string bound down to the middle of the bow) and was also a singer. Despite being raised in a culture then oppressive to women the Princess continued her music after marriage. This enabled her to contribute in the development of traditional music. Through the training of many young singers she made an unprecedented contribution to the preservation of traditional music.
As imbongi (praise singer) she transcended the boundaries of this role, which was traditionally a male preserve, to lament on her marriage and the lives of especially the Zulu people. Her career gained momentum in 1939 with a recording of some of her performances by Hugh Tracey. In making public appearances the Princess again broke custom, maintaining her dedication to music. By the 1950s, her music was widely recorded and played by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), David Rycroft and West German Radio. These recordings afforded Magogo an international audience and recognition. Her work was made largely from existing Zulu songs and folktales, and she extended them into music accompanied by the ugubhu.
In December 2003 she was posthumously awarded the South African National Order of Ikhamanga in Gold for a life of prolific musical composition, and an outstanding contribution to the preservation and development of traditional music in South Africa.
In 2002, an opera, based on her life and entitled Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu (often referred to simply as Princess Magogo), with music by Mzilikazi Khumalo and a libretto by Themba Msimang, was performed in Durban and per4formed in Chicago, USA, in 2004 by the African Renaissance Opera.
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