Oliver Mtukudzi, one of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated musicians, died Wednesday of an undisclosed ailment, a former colleague has said.

“He has rested. He had been in and out of the hospital since last year when he developed a heart problem,” Clive Mukundu, a music producer who worked with Mtukudzi, told CNN outside the private medical center where the 66-year-old musician was being treated.
Popularly known as “Tuku” by his fans, Mtukudzi had been successfully performing for decades throughout Africa, as well as in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
Born into a musical family in 1952, his foot-stomping music has been described as a mixture of Zimbabwean pop style “jit” and South African township pop.
Through his distinct sound and inspiring lyrics, he documented the joy and pain of his countrymen who fought for freedom under colonial rule and died for democracy after Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
“Where I come from you don’t get to sing a song if you have nothing to say,” he said in a 2013.
The musician had more than 60 albums under his belt.

After his death, many of his fans and music collaborators shared memorable photographs in which they pose with the artist. This shows that Tuku was indeed a man of the people.

But the greatest connection fans made with Tuku was through his music, starting with his 1978 debut solo album Ndipeiwo Zano (Give Me an Idea), which was re-released in 2000 due to its iconic status. This strong connection to his music continued until his last offering Han’a (Concern) released last year.

There is no Oliver Mtukudzi without the ‘Tuku Music’ brand – an amalgamation of jazz and jiti and sung in Shona, Ndebele and English – which was key in garnering the artist global fame. In the past 42 years, Tuku wrote unforgettable songs that made him one of the biggest names out of Africa, and arguably the biggest in his home country. He played abroad to millions of fans who will continue the Tuku legacy by playing his music to future generations for many years to come.

HIS MUSIC

‘Neria’ (1993)

‘Neria’ was the official soundtrack of the eponymous film. The song consoles a widow named Neria who has lost her husband. The single, which is off the album of the same name, has become synonymous with the challenges faced by Zimbabwean widows, such as social ostracism and inheritance disputes.

‘Street Kid’ (1995)

Tuku wanted to bring to the fore Zimbabwe’s many homeless children. A social commentary par excellence, ‘Street Kid’ bemoans children eating out of bins and exposes the dire economic situation in 1990s Zimbabwe. The song is off the Was My Child album.

‘Dzoka Uyamwe’ (1999)

‘Dzoka Uyamwe’ is about a son who longs for his roots, while his mother, too, beckons him to return home. This song can also interpreted along political and socio-economic lines: it speaks of the conflict between the harsh urban life at the turn of the millennium and the sanctuary and simplicity in rural Zimbabwe. The track is off the Tuku Music album.

‘Seiko Mwari’ (2000)

‘Seiko Mwari’ means ‘Why God?’ Here Tuku asks God to tell him where their relationship stands. The emotional song makes references to the biblical stories of Job and Mary. The song is off the Paivepo album and is a gospel track sometimes used by Zimbabweans for consolation after losing a loved one.

‘Into Yami’ (2006) – Ringo Madlingozi (South Africa) ft. Oliver Mtukudzi

‘Into Yami’ is a love song that became a huge hit in South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is sung in Xhosa and Shona and is one of the most successful collaborations between artists from the two neighbouring countries.

 

 

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20 COMMENTS

    • Oliver showed us that you did not need to imitate America RnB to make it music. He was authentic. His music will live on! MHSRP

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    • @Mushota, last 6 months you matured, but you go back to usual teenage minds.
      Sorry usually I defend you, but .. anyway, I got more important things today.

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  1. Mushota you are an ***** who has no relevance in this world. You are talking things that have no bearing the loss of a loved one. I almost thought you were becoming normal in the last few of your comments. But to see you comment like this i wonder why LT has not banned you yet on this platform. You are mediocre big time.

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  2. One of Zims greatest exports Oliver…I listen to this brother’s music he just needs a guitar to keep entertain the crowd. Watch him on a commercial aircraft entertaining the passengers in-flight on YouTube.
    Go well Oliver Mtukudzi!!

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  3. I had privilege to watch him like in concert. Got few of his albums, big man and real big loss. Tuku music lives on, RIP.

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  4. May his soul rest in eternal peace. We have lost a great champion of the vulnerable, especially women. Watch Neria and weep. Zambia’s law against property grabbing from widows took a leaf from the research for Neria.

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  5. Rest well and he is singing hosannas with the angels. God Bless him.

    I think article should have mentioned Twende, Twende as it’s about the whole of Africa being upwardly mobile. A rallying call we all need to hear in mind.

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  6. Hugh, Tuku, Habib Koite, Baaba Maal, Salif Keita, Youssou Ndour, Lucky Dube, Abdullah Ibrahim, Johnny Clegg, Farka Toure, Kidjo, Fassie, Sunny Ade, PK Chishala, Makeba, Amayenge are the best ever for Africa.
    RIP Tuku.

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  7. To me he was a legend. I love his music so much. His song with Ringo takes me very far.
    Rest in peace Samanyanga.

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  8. A music giant. Music that resonated with every days struggles but gave one the impetus to do something – yet, melodious and beautiful.

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