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Oliver Samboko writes


Zimbabwe music icon, Oliver Mtukudzi, who died at Harare’s Avenues clinic, aged 66, stepped onto the music scene in 1977 and grew to become the most internationally acclaimed musician to ever come out of that country.

At the time of his passing on, Mtukuzi had over 50 albums to his name which celebrate and are rooted in Zimbabwean’s culture and heritage.

Mtukudzi surpassed being just a musician, diversifying himself into mentoring other musicians, being an entrepreneur, a philanthropist and human rights activist.

His life was well and fully lived and his legacy shall live on.

He passed on cultural knowledge through his lyrics as well as Shona idioms and knowledge to the new generation through his art works. He would sing about how Shona customs were carried out, how to respect and the troubles in our society. Also sang gospel songs to encourage the lowly in spirit. Humour was also found in his songs.

Born on 22, September 1952 in Highfield, Harare, Oliver Mtukudzi, who was also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Region, was considered Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognised cultural icon of all time. He passed away on 23 January, 2019.

He began performing in 1977 when he joined the Wagon Wheels, a band that also featured Thomas Mapfumo. Their single Dzandimomotera went gold and Tuku’s first album followed, which was also a major success. Mtukudzi is also a contributor to Mahube, Southern Africa’s “supergroup”.

With his husky voice, Mtukudzi became the most recognised singer to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene which earned him a devoted following across Africa and beyond.

A member of Zimbabwe’s Korekore ethinic group, Mtukudzi sung in the nation’s dominant Shona language along with Ndebele and English. He also incorporated elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as Tuku Music.

He undertook a number of tours around the world including several tours in the UK, US and Canada to perform for large audiences.


IN 2010, Mtukudzi was awarded by the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and The International Council of Africana Womanism (ICAW) in recognition of his luminary role in uplifting African women through his artistic work, music and a diversity of art forms offered, as community development, at his arts academy at Pakare Paye in Norton.

2011- Appointed Zimbabwe’s first UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern Africa.

2011- Honoured by the Government of Italy with the prestigious Cavaliere of the Order of Merit Award in recognition of his work as an international musician.

2014 – Honorary Doctorate (PHD) by the International Institute of Philanthropy.

2014 – Honorary Doctorate from Great Zimbabwe University (GZU). Doctor of

 Philosophy in Ethnomusicology and Choreography.


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