lucky Dubein life

Book: Crazy World: A Tribute to Lucky Dube

Book: Crazy World: A Tribute to Lucky Dube

Author: Guy Henderson

Publisher: Shuter & Shooter

Reviewer: Edward Tsumele

I was initially sceptical when I got the Lucky Dube book to review. This was partly because this biography of the slain reggae superstar, written by former Gallo accountant Guy Henderson, came out a few weeks after his violent death in a botched hijacking. How could someone have written a book on the life of someone within that short time? I thought.

However, I now know that this book was written years ago. This one is a reprint, done in the light of Dube's violent demise.

Henderson tells an amazing story of how Dube, born in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, was born into painful poverty.

Deserted by the father who is said to have had a penchant for the bottle, his mother too left him for Johannesburg to look for work. He was raised by a grandmother. This story tells of how Dube, from a young age, had to work as a domestic worker for white families in Mpumalanga, and how he had to travel for a long distance to school.

Dube, like many Africans who worked for whites as domestic workers, had nasty experiences with his white bosses. For example, when he was coming from school one day, some truant white miscreants set dogs on him. They mauled him. Until his death, he bore the mark from that vicious dog attack.

That is not all. One day his employers tested the efficiency of an electrical gadget on him before handing it over to their children to play with. It was done to establish whether the electrical current was not too strong for the children.

Henderson, however, paints a picture of Dube who, despite being born in a state of poverty, fought hard to extricate himself from a desperate situation to become one of this country's most celebrated musicians who did not only conquer Africa musically, but the rest of the world.

Despite his bad experiences, he was not bitter at all. Initially starting his career as a mbaqanga musician at Madadeni, near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, his uncle Richard Siluma, who was working for Gallo at the time took him under his wing.

Henderson traces how Dube's stature as a reggae artist grew phenomenally, selling his albums in tens of thousands when other musicians struggled. He bought a house at Madadeni early in his career.

Dube was also one of the first musicians to have owned a Mercedes Benz in the 1980s.

What is also remarkable about Dube is that he believed in the goodness of human beings, irrespective of his bad experience with racism and poverty-stricken background.

He never smoked or drank.

This book, however, does not give much of what is not in the public domain about him. But it reminded me of Dube's last performance at the Bloemfontein Showgrounds at the Macufe Festival last year - two weeks before his painful death.

He demonstrated his professionalism when he gave a spirited performance before a small crowd, thanks to the bad organisation of the festival. Long live Rasta, for Rastas Never Die.