Lucky Dube ‘s life history is no different from most Africans’ rags to riches stories. He was born on the third of August 1964 in Mpumalanga, South Africa. A miracle in a broken marriage, he was raised by a single mother who was at work most of the time, leaving her children in the care of their grandmother. At an early age he began working as a gardener in a bid to sustain his family. His earnings were not enough to provide for their needs hence he decided to go back at school.
He joined the choir and started the Skyward Band with his friends. At the age of 18 Dube joined the Love Brothers, a band which specialized in Zulu pop music. His music still could not provide for his basic needs and he had to support himself by working as a security guard at car auctions in Midrand. He was still in school. The band was signed with Teal Record Company and it made about two albums during the school holidays. The first one was titled ‘Lucky Dube and the Supersoul’. On the second album the singer did more than just sing as he discovered another talent and wrote lyrics for some of the songs.
Inspired by the likes of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy cliff, Lucky Dube turned Rastafarian and was to become one of the most significant reggae artists on the whole continent. He wrote a few reggae songs in his fifth album and got a favorable response from his fans. He decided to fully venture into the reggae genre in 1984 when he released his “Rastas Never die” mini-album.
The album was rich in terms of lyrics as it touched upon social and political issues of the suppressed black majority in South Africa at the time. One of the songs on the record ” War and Crime” talked about burying apartheid, racial discrimination and tribal discrimination. The mini -album was a step towards uniting people and bringing peace to the world. Commercially, it didn’t do as well as his previous works as it sold only 4000 records. It was banned the next year because of its revolutionary message.
His true success in the reggae domain came with his second reggae album ” Think about the children” in 1985.The album went platinum and attracted attention to him from other countries. His commercial success stream began. His music was awarded constantly with his songs like ‘Captured Alive’, ‘House of exile’ winning an OKTV award each and ” Prisoner” winning four OKTV awards. In the years to follow he made an album titled ‘Victims’ which sold over a million copies worldwide. He managed to get a recording contract with Motown records, one of America ‘s biggest African American owned music recording companies which played a huge role in the racial integration of pop music. “Serious reggae business”, his 1996 compilation album earned him the ‘Bestselling African recording artist’ and ‘International artist of the year’ awards at the World Music Awards and the Ghana Music awards respectively.
He relentlessly won the South African Music awards and as if this was not enough, his last album “Respect ” was released in Europe through a deal with Warner Music.
Even though he evolved with the times in his music in terms of genres, from Zulu pop to Reggae to Dub, what didn’t change was his message. He expressed his true sentiments about colonization, discrimination, slave trade the issue of land.
He was fearless and true to himself and his beliefs. He remained rooted to the mother land even after all his success. His talent helped to bridge cultural gaps within the African diaspora. Lucky Dube was a freedom fighter in his own right. He died on the 18th of October 2007 after being shot in a car hijacking. His legacy however did not die with him. Till this day several commemorations to him have been made including the 25 track album released on 18 October 2017 by Gallo Records South Africa which included his most famous hits, performances and 3 tracks he made and had not released prior to his death. His music still inspires many people all over the world.