Durban Living Legend – Thuli Dumakude

Thulie Daisy Dumakude was born in Lamontville, Durban in 1949. She has played and performed international for plays such Rafiki, Poppie Nongena, Bongi to mention but the few. She is best known for having originated the title role in 1983’s Poppie Nongena, for which she received the Laurence Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in a New Play in 1984 and she traveled to London, Toronto, Australia and Chicago.

She played KaMadonsela (Lady Macbeth) in Welcome Msomi’s Umabatha in South Africa and abroad. Dumakude featured as soloist in the movies, “Cry Freedom”, “Power of One” and “Serengeti” for Imax Theatre. She was a vocal coach for “Sarafina” on Broadway and “Sheila’s Day”.

She was the choreographer for “Umabatha”, Muntu Dance Theatre in Chicago and Dinizulu Dance Company.

  • In 1988, Dumakude was part of the cast of Julie Taymor’s Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass. 
  • In 1992, she took part in the creation of the one woman show Buya Africa, for which she was the winner of three AUDELCO Awards in New York for writing, directing and performing
  • In 1993, Dumakude took part in the world premiere of Gary and Bécaud’s Roza. She performed as Woman and as a stand-by for Madame Bouaffa.
  • In 1998, she was cast as a replacement for Tsidii Le Loka’s Rafiki in The Lion King, being once more directed by Julie Taymor. She stayed in the show for three years, leaving in 2001 and being replaced by Sheila Gibbs.
  • In 2009 she took part in the revival production of the Duma Ndlovu 1989 hit Sheila’s Day, where she performed as Qeduszi. In this production she starred with some other cast members of The Lion King, such as Selloane Nkhela and Futhi Mhlongo.
  • In 2014 she took part in Debbie Tucker Green’s generations.

Dumakude has released two studio albums: 1992’s Senzeni na? and 2005’s Thina Sobabili, performed with Mthakathi Ema.

In 1987, she helped compose the soundtrack of the drama movie Cry Freedom. She was also part of the soundtrack of the 1992 movie The Power of One.

She is currently working with 20 rural women in the village of Galibasi in Muden KZN doing beadwork and selling them abroad to theatre goers in New York. Part of the money goes to AIDS organizations in SA.

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