South African reggae legend Lucky Dube was fatally shot during an alleged car jacking while dropping his teenage son and daughter off at a family member’s home in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville on Oct. 18. The death of the singer came at the cusp of a renewed pledge by the South African government to forge a partnership with people, communities and their institutions to fight the severe crime rates throughout the nation.
Police say Dube and his children were already out of the car when he was hit by three shots fired through a car window. According to a correspondent with BBC news, witnesses say after the shots were fired the wounded singer tried to drive away, but lost control of his car and hit a tree. Investigators at the crash site suspect that three people were involved in the crime.
Considered by reggae music lovers as the greatest reggae artist to come out of South Africa, Luke Dube was born in Ermelo on August 3, 1964. Born sick and not expected to live, after he survived his first six months of life his parents named him Lucky. His musical talents were apparent at a young age—he was directing his school choir at nine years old—he later joined The Love Brothers band alongside his cousin Richard Siluma. He recorded his first single as an Mbaqanga singer with the band in 1979 and started his solo career in 1983 with album Lengane Ngeyetha. Deeply influenced by the lyrics and music of Peter Tosh and inspired by the reggae genre in general, he secretly recorded Rastas Never Die in 1985. It was the first reggae album ever recorded in South Africa. Full of Rasta-inspired, black empowerment imagery, the album was banned immediately by the then all-white South African government (upon overwhelming popular demand the album was later re-released in 1988). Subsequent albums Think About The Children (1986), Slave (1987) Together As One (1988) and Prisoner (1989) catapulted him into both domestic and global recognition.
Lucky’s music championed the culture and history of African peoples and spoke ardently against apartheid, the pain and suffering of his people and of all people through his compelling lyrics and musical genius. With over 20 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans, many of which have been record breakers with phenomenal sales from around the globe, Dube created some of the most legendary pieces of reggae music ever recorded. He was an artist that continued to break international barriers and had recently signed a deal with Warner Music International that secured the release of 2006’s Respect across Europe.
He is survived by his new wife Zanele and his 7 children Bongi, Nonkululeko, Thokozani, Laura, Siyanda, Philani and his brand new three-month old baby Melokuhle.