Thu. Jun 13th, 2024
Todd MatshikizaTodd Matshikiza

Who Was Todd Matshikiza? Google Doodle Observes South African Jazz Performers

Todd Matshikiza
Todd Matshikiza


In today’s colorful Google Doodle, we celebrate the remarkable life of Todd Matshikiza, a renowned South African pianist, composer, and journalist. This icon briefly migrated to England in 1960 to escape the ongoing Apartheid in South Africa. Join us as we delve into the legacy of this exceptional musician and explore his journey through a Google Doodle created by South African artist Keith Vlahakis.

Who Was Todd Matshikiza?

Born into a Musical Family

Todd Matshikiza’s journey began on March 7, 1921, in Queenstown, South Africa. He was born into a musical family, with his father being a talented organist who imparted the gift of music to Todd and his six siblings. Matshikiza’s mother was a vocalist, and this nurturing environment laid the foundation for his musical aspirations.

Education and Early Career

After obtaining a music and teaching diploma from St. Peter’s College in Johannesburg, Matshikiza embarked on a multifaceted career. He spent his free time composing choral works and songs, including the well-known ‘Hamba Kahle.’ Alongside his musical pursuits, he worked as a mathematics and English teacher. In 1947, he realized another dream by establishing the Todd Matshikiza School Of Music, where he primarily taught piano and jazz music. However, this endeavor didn’t provide a stable income, leading him to take on additional roles as a bookkeeper and salesman.

Contributions to Drum Music Magazine

Matshikiza’s influence extended beyond the classroom. He became one of the initial contributors to the Drum Music magazine, where he penned two popular columns. One focused on the development of the jazz genre, while the other explored life in the township. His insightful writings resonated with readers, solidifying his status as a prominent voice in South African music journalism.

Musical Legacy

Among Matshikiza’s many achievements, he is perhaps best known for his musical compositions. His song ‘Quick in Love’ gained recognition when it was featured in the film ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.’ Additionally, he made significant contributions to musicals such as ‘Mkhumbane’ and ‘King King,’ leaving an indelible mark on the South African music landscape.

Brief Life in England

Matshikiza’s decision to briefly migrate to England in 1960 was driven by the desire to escape the oppressive Apartheid regime in South Africa. His musical, ‘King Kong,’ which chronicled the life of heavyweight boxer Ezekiel Dlamini (also known as King Kong), gained immense popularity and was performed at the West End in 1961. London appeared to be the ideal opportunity for his career to flourish.

However, Matshikiza’s time in England proved challenging. He struggled to make a lasting impression in the UK’s local music scene, facing stiff competition and limited opportunities. This period marked a tumultuous chapter in his career, and he encountered several obstacles along the way.

Disheartened by his experiences in England, Matshikiza eventually relocated to Zambia. There, he found employment at the Zambian Information Service as a music archivist, bringing his storied career to a close. He continued to contribute to the preservation and documentation of music until his passing in 1968.


1. What is Todd Matshikiza best known for in his career?

Todd Matshikiza is best known for his musical compositions, particularly the song ‘Quick in Love,’ which featured in the film ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,’ and his contributions to musicals like ‘Mkhumbane’ and ‘King King.’

2. What role did Todd Matshikiza play in South African journalism?

Matshikiza was an influential figure in South African journalism. He contributed to the Drum Music magazine, writing columns about the development of the jazz genre and life in the township.

3. Why did Todd Matshikiza migrate to England in 1960?

Matshikiza migrated to England in 1960 to escape the ongoing Apartheid in South Africa. His musical, ‘King Kong,’ had gained popularity, making London seem like a promising opportunity for his career.

4. What challenges did Todd Matshikiza face during his time in England?

Matshikiza encountered difficulties in making a lasting impression on the UK’s local music scene. He faced stiff competition and struggled to secure significant opportunities.

5. Where did Todd Matshikiza spend the later years of his life?

Matshikiza relocated to Zambia in the later years of his life, where he worked at the Zambian Information Service as a music archivist until his passing in 1968.

6. What legacy did Todd Matshikiza leave behind in the world of music?

Todd Matshikiza’s legacy in music includes his memorable compositions and contributions to musicals, making him a celebrated figure in South African music history.


Todd Matshikiza’s journey from a musical family in South Africa to his contributions to journalism and music is a testament to his enduring legacy. Despite the challenges he faced during his time in England, his impact on South African jazz and music journalism remains indelible. Today’s Google Doodle serves as a colorful reminder of the remarkable life of this iconic musician.


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