Todd Matshikiza

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Todd Matshikiza (1921-1968) Musician, journalist and broadcaster.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Misrepresented by the chronichlers of the King Kong project as an untrained amateur, he was actually a highly accomplished musician. A successor of African vaudeville impressario Motsieloa, he worked with several bands as pianist, including the Harlem Swingsters and the Jazz Dazzlers, was Drum magazine’s music editor, and a serious composer. His articles include “How Musicians Die” (1953) and “Jazz Comes to Jo’burg” (1957) and among his compositions are a musical praise poem for Trevor Huddlestone called Makhalipile (“The Undaunted One” – 1953) and a cantata for 200 voices and a 70 piece orchestra called Uxolo (“Peace”), commissioned for the 70th anniversary of Johannesburg (1956). Between 1957-59 he helped write the synopsis, composed the music and wrote the Nguni lyrics for the musical King Kong and in 195*/6* collaborated with Alan Paton on the musical show Mkhumbane. In 196* he was banned and left the country, to die in exile. His son John inherited the copyright to his father’s work**??.

His autobiographical account of his time in London (Chocolates for my Wife) was published by Hoddder and Stoughton in 1961.

The first half of With the Lid Off: South African Insights from Home and Abroad 1959-2000, by Todd Matshikiza and John Matshikiza, a book published by Mail and Guardian Books in 2001, is a collection of Todd Matshikiza's Drum magazine columns. An elegant writer, his columns exude humour without reducing the daily struggles of ordinary black South Africans for survival and a better life.


Tucker, 1997. 127-128.

Book review by Vuyo Mvoko, Leadership SA, 30 June 2001.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

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