Culture&Arts

Zimbabwe declares popular musician Mtukudzi national hero

Zimbabwe declares popular musician Mtukudzi national hero

With his distinctive husky voice, Mtukudzi had a career that stretched from white minority-ruled Rhodesia to majority-ruled Zimbabwe, producing a string of hits that spread his fame across Africa and eventually to an worldwide audience.

Politicians, musicians and fans are sending condolence messages on social media following the news that the Afro-jazz musician Oliver Mtukudzi died earlier today.

I remember the day I graduated and got married and my family dedicated his song Totutuma (We Celebrate) - loosely translated to "this is our day, let's celebrate, you have made us proud".

The musician had more than 60 albums under his belt.

Oliver was a man of the people.

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Veteran Kenyan broadcaster Fred Obachi Machoka also mourned Mr Mtukudzi, saying he had made a great contribution to African music. This strong connection to his music continued until his last offering Han'a (Concern) released past year.

Apart from being a singer and guitarist, "Tuku" - who breathed his last breath one year to the day after his friend and fellow continental great Hugh Masekela of South Africa - was also an actor, having featured in the films Jit (1990), Neria (1993) and Zimbabwe Respect for Africa (1994). He played overseas to millions of fans who will continue the Tuku legacy by playing his music to future generations for many years to come. It was her favourite song by you.

"Dzoka Uyamwe" is about a son who longs for his roots, while his mother, too, beckons him to return home. After Zimbabwe attained its independence from Britain in 1980, Mtukudzi and his peers penned many songs - his own "Zimbabwe" among them - celebrating the country's independence. The track is off the Tuku Music album. The emotional song makes references to the biblical stories of Job and Mary.

I will forever treasure every memory that was created, helped by the sound of your music. It is sung in Xhosa and Shona and is one of the most successful collaborations between artists from the two neighbouring countries.