Tributes have poured in for legendary Zimbabwean musician and human rights activist, Oliver Mtukudzi, who passed away on Wednesday at the Avenues Clinic in Harare.
He was 66.
Many fans of the celebrated jazz musician took to social media to express how they felt about his death.
Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, led the tributes when he wrote on Twitter that his country had lost a true patriot.
“Today we said goodbye to a true patriot. Oliver Mtukudzi, your voice has given us comfort during difficult times and will remain with us for posterity. Rest in peace comrade.”
South African opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, expressed its heartfelt and revolutionary condolences on the passing of the musician.
The national speaker, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, said in a statement that the death of Tuku, like his life, is a rebuke to us all to never lose heart and never to give in to despondency.
“We call on Zimbabwe, just like Tuku did with Neria, don’t be disheartened, God is with you. The winds of change are upon you, but they are here to make you and not break you, don’t be disheartened.”
Ndlozi added that Mtukudzi’s music will always be remembered.
“We shall drink forever from his musical genius. We shall cherish his heritage and preserve it all the days of our lives,” he said.
McHenry Venaani, from The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), said Africa and the international community is indeed poorer because of Mtukudzi’s passing.
“He shall forever remain a symbol of African greatness and joins the pantheon of those who struggled and triumphed amid immense challenges.
“He has passed on leaving a legacy that is in many respects unmatched. His music will continue to inspire the generations that follow. The PDM wishes his family and loved ones God’s comfort and strength during this difficult time. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Venaani said.
South African politician, Emmanuel Nkosinathi "Nathi" Mthethwa, said Mtukudzi’s passing is a great loss for the music industry because a giant in African music has fallen.
“His artistic genius brought us together in good times and gave us hope during our darkest hour. The news of your death comes as a shook to the African soil. It was like an earthquake, yet you still instilled a sense of hope for a brighter day.
“We will never forget how he masterfully strummed his guitar to open pathways for his iconic voice to roar with magnificence and echo across Mount Nyangani in Zimbabwe, to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Yet it still effortlessly soothed the souls of the downtrodden. We will forever appreciate how the legendary Mtukudzi preserved his heritage and built bridges of African unity,” Mthethwa said.
Mtukudzi was known for hits such as Todii and Neria, and was arguably Zimbabwe’s most celebrated artist ever.
Mtukudzi was born on 22 September 1952 in Harare.
He was a musician, businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the Southern Africa Region.
Mtukudzi grew up in Highfield, a ghetto neighbourhood 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.
Their single Dzandimomotera went gold and then Mtukudzi’s first album followed, which was also a major success.
With his husky voice, Mtukudzi became the most recognised voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond.
He incorporated elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as Tuku Music.
Mtukudzi had a number of tours around the world, including in the UK, US and Canada.
Apart from his music, Mtukudzi was heavily involved in matters of human rights across the continent and held a slew of prestigious human rights awards, including The International Council For Africana Womanism Award, which was in recognition of his role in the upliftment of African women through his artistic work.
Mtukudzi was born in a family of six. He is survived by his wife, Daisy, and four children.