Princess Constance Magogo Sibilile Mantithi Ngangezinye Ka Dinuzul, is regarded as one of South Africa's most important traditional composers. Not only was she an exceptional singer but also an outstanding music teacher and powerful political activist.
Born in 1900, she grew up in a society where women were oppressed yet managed to make an unprecedented contribution to Zulu culture by training many young singers and thus preserving traditional Zulu music for the generations to come.
Princess Magogo got her first musical training from her grandmothers, in whose huts she used to sleep as a small girl. Their education resulted in a musical repertoire of Zulu songs dating as far back as the late 18th century, King Shaka's time. And although her mother, Queen Silomo, died when she was very young, Princess Magogo remembered her for the part she played in her musical formation.
As a singer and composer Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu was revered – locally and abroad – for her formidable knowledge of Zulu custom and music and many local and international musicologists consulted with her on the subject. Hugh Tracey recorded her first in 1939 and she also recorded with local and West German radio, allowing her talent to be heard by a wider audience.
Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu died on 21 November 1984 and soon thereafter an opera was composed in her honour: 'Princess Magogo' has been performed in South Africa and abroad many times.
Her son, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the current leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, was educated with the income Princess Magogo made from selling her own cattle – from primary school all the way through to his tertiary education.