Bonani Benjamin Dube was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on 23 January 1962. He is the last born son of five children of the late Reverend Benjamin Dube (Senior) and Mrs Grace Dube. Bonani Benjamin Dube and his siblings grew up in Meadowlans, Soweto, in a Christian and musical family attending church. His father was a guitarist and his mother was a singer. His parents were always on the road as evangelists in the Assemblies of God Church (Back to God Crusade) under the late Bishop Nicholas Bhengu.
At the age of 9 he developed the love of playing a guitar. By the time he was 11 years old, he started playing drums and bass guitar. His mother, Grace would call all of them as children to come and sing, teaching them songs and how to harmonize.
They started singing in the church as Dube Family Singers and Benjamin playing the guitar and singing at the age of 12 in 1974. The young Benjamin used to sing a hit song called “Oh Happy Day” by Edwin Hawkins in his father’s tent meetings. Sadly, when his was 14 years old, his father was murdered. The following year, in 1977, the Dube Family Singers continued with what the late Reverend Benjamin (senior) Dube’s legacy and toured the Netherlands with their mother. While on tour in Netherlands, their mother shared with them how their father had been murdered. That inspired them to record an album called “Vader vergeef he then” – Dutch, meaning “Father forgive them” – composed by the young Bonani Benjamin Dube.
In 1978/79, they recorded another album called “Amen” under a local label. In 1980 Benjamin Dube founded a singing group while in High School (Daliwonga Secondary School, in Dube Township, Soweto) called “Share the Good News”. Benjamin entered an SABC talent search Competition and won 1st prize and got a Stereo Cassette player and grocery hamper from OK Bazaar. From that SABC talent search, he was spotted by a secular artist by the name of Sello “Chicco” Twala. Chicco was about to start a pop band called “Image“. He invited Benjamin Dube to become the lead vocalist for the band. That was a start of a fruitful a relationship between Benjamin Dube and Chicco Twala. Together with Image they did three projects in which Benjamin wrote one song called “Valencia“. Later in 1984/85, Benjamin recorded a family album – “We Pray for Love” followed by his 1st single – “I Live Joyfully“. When Chicco left Image to go solo he called Benjamin to join him in a company called Dephon Records.
Benjamin Dube began the journey of his calling in ministry in 1986 when he recorded a single – ‘HOLY SPIRIT’ as Benjamin and The Youth Choir. It was produced Chicco Twala at Dephon Records on the Ron B Label in 1986, which was a cross-over hit song and chart buster on local radio stations and sold over 25 000 units in the year of its release in South Africa. In 1988, he released another album called “EBENEZER” featuring the late “Lucky Dube” with Gallo Records. By this time Benjamin Dube was already a household name in South Africa. He was invited to be a supporting act for the US gospel star, James Cleveland when he toured South Africa. Dube later toured America where he shared the stage with greats such as the Mighty Clouds of Joy and Andre Crouche.
As Benjamin Dube was busy in studio recording beautiful music, he was also busy on the side doing his Music Diploma in Piano at FUBA Academy in Newtown, Johannesburg. Later, with his family, the Dube Family Singer released album called “We Are What We Are“, also released by Gallo Records in 1989 produced and written by him. The album featured some of today’s big names on instruments such as Mthunzi Namba, Victor Masondo, Sandile Ngema, Isaac Mtshali, Veli Shabangu, John Hassan, Lawrence Matshiza, Thapelo Khomo and Don Laka. In 1989/90 he recorded an album called “Love Africa” which was the last record with Gallo Records. Benjamin then went to EMI division, CCP and did an album title “Benjamin Dube” produced by Sizwe Zako.
Soon after that, Benjamin Dube went on his own, recording an album called “CELEBRATION” that he financed and produced. He also continued with his calling in ministry and was ordained at Zoe Bible Church by Bishop G.Z. Botwana as a Pastor. In 1992, Bishop Botwana informed Benjamin’s mother Grace and his older brother Bonisani Dube that God had called Benjamin to start a ministry. After a year of prayer, Benjamin Dube founded High Praise Centre Church in March 1994. Pastor Benjamin Dube’s church soon expanded and now has five other branches across the country. Now a Reverend, Benjamin Dube is currently the President of the Church, assisted by his older brother, Bonisani Dube. With the many branches it now has, High Praise Centre, a non-profit organization that addresses the spiritual needs of men, women and children now has over 2000 membership. It has also inspired new musicians such as Avante, Family Factory, Well and Zamajobe Sithole.
After releasing an album titled “Benjamin Dube” he then cut a deal with harmony records in New York (USA) under EPIC Records Label and he recorded an album live in 1997/9 titled, “I Feel Like Going On” in which he featured musicians such as the Twins, Lulama, his mother Grace Dube and the late Vuyo Mokoena. That album became his first album to sell more than 50 000 copies (platinum sales) in South Africa alone, a major milestone. In 2002, he released yet another big album, titled, Benjamin Dube presents High Explosion, which was the beginning of a dynamic concept which thrilled gospel music lovers all over South Africa and beyond. His other albums in this particular concept are Oh! Bless Our God released in 2004, an album which was nominated in the South African Music Awards, SAMA 11’s Best Contemporary Album category. In 2006 he released Eh! Yaweh, Live, which was nominated for SAMA’s Best Urban Gospel Album category. Unfortunately for him that year, the category was won by the gospel group, Redeemed for their album Live in Soweto.
In 2005 July, Benjamin Dube and his then wife survived a terrible car accident on their way from Yolanda Adams’ concert in Randburg, as they were travelling on the N3 highway near Alberton.
Reverend Benjamin Dube’s other albums include You Blessed Me Still, released in 2005; All Time Favourites, released in 2006; Looking Back, released in 2007 and His Presense also released in 2007, which won him the South African Music Awards – SAMA 14’s Best Urban Gospel Category. His music ministry has briskly grown internationally, in USA, Sweden, Netherlands, Paris, Australia, Japan, and has an office in London, UK.
In addition to his music ministry, Reverend Benjamin Dube is a sought after itinerary speaker. He spoke in former president Nelson Mandela’s “Freedom of the City” award presentation, sharing podiums on both Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki’s presidential inaugurations. He is a well-travelled preacher, and has shared podiums with Bishop TD Jakes, Bishop John Francis, Bishop Tudor Bismark, Kirk Franklin, Andrae Crouch, Israel Houghton and many other renowned speakers and musicians. He has done a Degree in Psychology at the University of South Africa (UNISA). As senior pastor of High Praise Centre, he speaks to more than 2000 people every Sunday, not counting the seven churches he associates with.
Reverend Dube is the owner of Dube Connection; a music label licensing to SonyBMG and Spirit Music. Through the label he employs his other aptitudes as songwriter, author, and producer/arranger, discovering and developing young talent. Thus far, the label has produced five albums, tow of which have sold Gold and the other two more than Platinum. He has developed business partnership with Sony, Spirit Music, Gallo, EMI, BMG, SAMRO, SARRAL, and RISA
He founded Artist Hope Arise (AHA) in 2009 and also co-founded God’s worshipers Convocation (GWC) in the same year. The first convocation was in September 2009 and is available on DVD. Secular and gospel artists, and celebrities have frequently asked Rev. Benjamin Dube for counselling and his wisdom. He has preached in many of the musicians’ memorial services.
Reverend Benjamin Dube has been a guest of several national television and radio programmes, and has made news in every newspaper and magazine in South Africa. In December 2004, Sunday Sun Newspaper named him the most influential celebrity of the month with integrity.
On the 4th March 2012 he recorded his first artist under his own record label, Dube Connection by the name Themba Masina.
With his musical background, he has sixteen albums to his name, eight which are still on the market another one was released on March 07 2013.
Here are just some of his many albums:
- I feel like going on – album sold Platinum (Harmony records/Spirit Music),
- “For Every Mountain…..Thank you” (2003) – album sold Platinum (Spirit Music/Dube Connection),
- The High Praise Explosion (2004) “OH! Bless Our God” – album sold Gold (Sony/Dube Connection),
- The High Praise Explosion “Eyahweh”
- Benjamin Dube & The Free State – Praise Explosion “June 16”
- Commemoration –Live
- In His Presence with Benjamin Dube – (2007)
- Worship in His Presence with Benjamin Dube – (2010)
- “Healing in His Presences” – (2012) with Benjamin Dube.
Reverend Benjamin Dube has gotten married twice and has divorced twice and is now raising his four sons as a single parent. Three of sons are part of an upcoming Gospel Gospel Music group, The Dube Brothers, made up of Mthokozisi Dube (26), Sihle Dube (24) and Buhle Dube (18), who are currently enjoying the success of their debut album “The Dube Brothers – Stepping Up” which was released in September 2013. The Dube Brothers have a unique soulful gospel music which attracts both the young and the old, religious and secular people.
Reverend Benjamin Dube first got married to Phindile Valencia Dube, with whom they were blessed with 3 sons who formed The Dube Brothers gospel group, Mthokozisi (26), Sihle (24) and Buhle (18). Many years later, he got divorced to his first wife and married Thabile Mapila Dube and were blessed with another son, Mangi Dube. They, together with the 4 sons lived in their mansion in south of Johannesburg.
There were reports of ill-treatment by Thabile Mapila Dube towards her husband. The Sunday World reported that Dube had alleged that he lost audio in one ear after his wife had stabbed him in the ear with a car key during one of their violent encounters. reported that Dube’s wife beat him up after he had gone to collect cookies from his ex-wife, with whom he has children. Things allegedly came to a head on the 8th August 2015, when he says she “drubbed” him with fists and stabbed him in the ear with a car key. “I got injured and my eardrum is not working (sic),” he says in the docket. Reverend Benjamin Dube said that he locked himself up in his bedroom because, his then wife, Mapila Thabile Dube was after his life. Meanwhile, Thabile has also filed a counter suit. The vocalist alleged that his wife beat him up on three separate occasions in 2015 alone.
They soon divorced, with Thabile leaving the Reverend to raise the four sons as a single parent. All these experiences have inspired Reverend Benjamin Dube to share his journey with other couples, on the importance of family and many other lessons that his shares on the pulpit and through his music.
Reverend Benjamin Dube remains a music ministerial visionary, anointed songwriter and singer, music producer, mentor/father and teacher to many musicians and an inspiration to many artists and people in general in South Africa and all over the world. He is a LIVING LEGEND!
- Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music – by Max Mojapelo