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Saturday, August 3, 2013


(Thuli Dumakude)

South African-born Thuli Dumakude will perform for guests at the Africa America Institute’s spectacular 60th Anniversary Gala on September 25.

An actress, singer, and choreographer, she recently moved to the United States after many years living and working in Durban where she was a major role player in the revitalisation of Stable Theatre.

A powerful soul-stirring soprano, Dumakude will be remembered by long-term Durban audiences for her role in Welcome Msomi’s uMabatha (the Zulu “Macbeth”).  uMabatha premiered at the University’s University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal) open air theatre in 1971 and went on to perform to great success at the Aldwych Theatre in London and further afield.

Among her many stage successes, Dumakude played Rafiki in Lion King on Broadway and the lead role in Poppie Nongena in New York, London, Toronto, Australia and Chicago. She was also a vocal coach for Sarafina on Broadway.

For her lead role in Poppie Nongena, she is a recipient of Obie Awards in New York and the Sir Lawrence Olivier Award in London. She’s also the winner of three Audelco Awards in New York for writing, directing and performing her one woman show Buya Africa.

A celebrated singer and activist, she toured the world performing musical concerts during the apartheid era to raise awareness about the plight of her fellow South Africans. She worked with the late South African singer Miriam Makeba and sang before President Nelson Mandela at his 80th birthday celebration. She was invited by New York City’s Department of Education to tour schools teaching young people about the role of Africa in the world through music and dance.

Her charitable work includes Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Lion King Companies in America, providing them with beaded merchandise to raise funds for HIV/AIDS. She has organized a group of 20 South African rural women to create beadwork, which is sold to theatregoers in New York to support South African AIDS organizations.