- With his husky voice, Mtukudzi has become the most recognised voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond. A member of Zimbabwe’s KoreKore group, with Nzou Samanyanga as his totem, he sings in the nation’s dominant Shona language along with Ndebele and English.
- He also incorporates elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as Tuku Music
- He is survived by five children and two grandchildren. Two of his children are also musicians
By Ronald Orachwun
Nebbi- Music lovers across Nebbi district have paid tribute to the fallen Zimbabwean music icon, Dr. Oliver Mtukudzi.
Mtukudzi, affectionately known as “Tuku”, died on Wednesday 23 January 2019 at the Avenues Clinic in the capital Harare after a long battle with diabetes.
He died on the same day, exactly one year apart, as celebrated South African trumpeter and his long-time friend, jazz musician Hugh Masekela, with whom they met way back in 1983 during a music concert.
Hugh Masekela, the world-renowned South African trumpeter, died at the age of 78 on 23 January 2018 following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer.
Born on 22nd September 1952, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi was a Zimbabwean musician, businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Region. Tuku was considered to have been Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognised cultural icon of all time.
58-year-old Phillip Orombi, a resident of Pawong Parish Nebbi district says Oliver Mtukudzi was a musician whose talent cannot be rivaled. Orombi says Mtukudzi’s music especially “Todii”, which has reached world record has infiltrated his life and he cannot live a second without it.
“I have Todii in my memory card and I can’t really stay a second without playing it. I just love Mtukudzi’s musical life. His death was a real shock to me”, Mr Orombi said in an interview this evening.
67-year-old Marla Ozelle, a resident of Ajoganyayubodhu cell in Nebbi municipality says Mtukudzi’s life reminds him of his old days when he was still a young boy when music was used as a societal transformational tool especially for the voiceless whose rights were being overshadowed.
“Mtukudzi is almost my agemate and I still recall the 1980’s when he came to the limelight. Those days were the climax of oppression on the local people especially in Uganda and South African countries. He used his rough voice to champion freedom and call for respect for the rights of Africans and South Africa in particular which was under intense British rule.”
Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi was hailed as a cultural icon and his songs, usually sung in his native language Shona, earned him global recognition as one of the best artists to come out of Zimbabwe.
During one of his music tours in New York, United States of America USA recently, he urged the American youth never to think that anybody will come from anywhere to help them, but to stand up and fight for their rights.
Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa said he learnt with deep shock and great sadness of the death of international music icon Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, describing him as an expression of Zimbabwean identity and the country’s cultural ambassador.
“He was an expression of Zimbabwean identity, a man of humble character, very affable and engaging in his own unique way through Tuku Music, raising our national flag high wherever he went to perform here at home, on the African continent, and throughout the world,” said President Mnangagwa in a statement.
Zimbabwean Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa also consoled the Mtukudzi family in a statement.
The Zimbabwe Herald Newspaper quotes Ms. Mutsvangwa saying “Tuku Music is a global symbol of Zimbabwean art and culture. Music never dies, and the rich legacy Mtukudzi has left with us is here to stay for generations and Mtukudzi sang love, social justice, social trials and tribulations of human existence, we shall miss him”.
Zimbabwean Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa also commented on the musical irony, tweeting: “Who would have thought, that bra Oliver Mtukudzi would be reunited with fellow African music legend, bra Hugh Masekela – on the same day just a year later?”
“Together your impact shook the African soil like an earthquake, yet you still instilled a sense of hope for a brighter day,” he added
Who is Dr. Oliver Mtukudzi?
Mtukudzii grew up in Highfield, a ghetto neighborhood in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare and began performing in 1977 when he joined the Wagon Wheels, a band that also featured Thomas Mapfumo and fellow legendary guitarist James Chimombe. They were given the rare opportunity , financial resources and provided with the latest state of the art equipment to develop their Afrocentric music talent at the first and only Night Club entertainment for Africans in Rhodesia called Club Mutanga by the manager and first Zimbabwean International Music Promoter Paul Tangi Mhova Mkondo a renowned Entrepreneur and Nationalist.
His son Sam Mtukudzi, a successful musician in his own right, died in a car accident in March 2010 and in 2013, he released an album titled “Sarawoga” in tribute to his son.