Jazz singer Dorothy Masuka has died. File picture: Simone Kley

Johannesburg - South African jazz legend and activist Dorothy Masuka died at the age of 85 on Saturday.

The revered musician, who sang hits such as "Hamba Nontsokolo" and "Lendaba", was born and raised in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. She travelled to Johannesburg by train as a teenager to launch her music career. A good songwriter, Masuka sang about township life in the 1950s, accompanied by big bands.

The governing African National Congress said Masuka was a revolutionary who used her music to spread the message of liberation from the apartheid regime.

''We dip our banners in remembrance of this giant whose music transcended generations and inspired many during the height of apartheid. Born in Zimbabwe and launched her professional music career in South Africa, her travels to Malawi, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and Zambia made her a true citizen of the world, deeply committed to the struggles to liberate the peoples of Africa,'' the ANC said in a statement.

''She was a South African patriot who loved the country and her people dearly. There is no doubt that she occupied a special place in the hearts of South Africans across generations and her music continues to inspire the nation.''

African News Agency (ANA)