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Doreen Thobekile

An accomplished, singer, dancer and instrumentalist, Doreen was born in Natal then grew up in Durban, South Africa. She plays African instruments such as mbira and umqangala. While in school she took part in singing and dancing, but it was in dancing that she would really excel. She became the solo dancer for a group called African Follies that toured several countries. 
Doreen settled in Britain in 1971 and was lead singer in the London's West End spectacular South African musical ‘Ipi Tombi' for 8 years. This led to her being a founder member of Shikisha, a Zulu women's dance group. Other musicals she has starred in include ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin' and ‘Poppie Nongena', both in London.
In 1983 Doreen was in Kenya to join with Mose Fan Fan's band Somo Somo for the recording of the song 'Jolie Africa' that is on the CD Belle Epoque (see CDs).
Very often Doreen conducts cultural arts workshops in schools, community centres or arts centres in Britain. One such occasion was during the big Celebrate South Africa festival in London in May 2001. She has also worked in this capacity in other parts of Europe and USA and Canada. Two memorable moments in her career were at the Royal Command Performance  at the Commonwealth Institute and at the launch of Virgin airline's route to South Africa. Currently Doreen is a singer and dancer in the fusion band Transglobal Underground. The band was on a very successful 3-week European tour in March/April 2001, starting off at Cargo in London (see photo). Doreen was also with Transglobal Underground when they performed at several WOMAD festivals in 2001 around


the world. Doreen and two other members of Transglobal Underground sometimes appear as a smaller act called Transglobal Undergrowth.

In 2004 Doreen performed at London's Coin Street Festival. She also had a major acting role as Mama in Beverley Naidoo's 'The Playground' which was staged for 6 weeks as part of Black History month at The Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, London. Doreen's 9-track solo album entitled London Zulu was released in 2005 - look out for it!

Over the years Doreen was a strong activist for women's issues including being a founder of WOMA, an organisation that gives support to women affected by AIDS in Africa. After a long battle with cancer, Doreen passed away on 1st June 2010. Her family and friends treasure their memories of her. May she rest in peace.