Tributes are pouring in from across the country for the late the legendary musician, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi.
Mtukudzi passed away in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Wednesday. Reports indicate that the 66-year-old musician had been struggling with his health, particularly over the last month.
He is being hailed as a cultural icon for his songs, which were usually sung in his mother tongue, Shona, which turned him to an international favourite.
Some of his well known and loved songs include Todii, Neria, Ndagara Nhaka, Ndakuvara and Into yam, which featured Ringo Madlingozi.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Wednesday joined fans in paying tribute, saying Mtukudzi was a musician par excellence, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the Southern Africa region.
“Mtukudzi is considered Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognised cultural icon of all time.
“Despite being a son of the soil of Zimbabwe, with his hauntingly beautiful and husky voice, he had over the decades become the most revered voice to emerge from that country, to being devotedly loved in South Africa, the SADC region and throughout the world,” said Mthethwa.
Being a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Mtukudzi travelled the world using his fame to promote UNICEF in Zimbabwe and other countries internationally.
Mthethwa said he was not just a person with a famous or immediately recognised name, but someone who used his name for goodwill while fighting for human rights for all.
Here in South Africa, Mtukudzi would consistently prove integral to the Africa Month programme as part of the Department of Arts and Culture’s reference group, which comprised Salif Keita and Wally Serote, amongst others.
“Mtukudzi was one of the key pillars of this Africa integration programme of the continent - socially, culturally, politically and economically,” said Mthethwa.
Mtukudzi passed away on the same date as his friend and collaborator, jazz legend Hugh Masekela, who passed away a year ago to the day.
The two legends have over the years shared a stage and have been was bestowed heaps of honour in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the continent at large.
These include KORA Awards; SAMA Finalist for Best Traditional/African Adult Contemporary DVD; the M-Net Best Soundtrack Award in 1992 for ‘Naira’; the University of Zimbabwe and The International Council of Africana Womanism Award in recognition of his luminary role in uplifting African women through his artistic work.
“To Bra Tuku, we say, thank you for the music. You demonstrated that done best, music transcends borders, culture and ethnicities, as it is the language that is best understood with the heart,” said Mthethwa.
Fans across the continent also took to social media to honour and pay tribute to the fallen icon. – SAnews.gov.za