The South African Federation of Trade Unions mourns the passing of Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi on 23 January 2019 in Harare.
He was a Zimbabwean musician, businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the Southern Africa Region. Tuku was considered by many to be Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognised cultural icon of all time.
He was born on 22 September 1952, one of a family of six, and 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”.
He sang in the nation’s dominant Shona language along with Ndebele and English. With his husky tones, Mtukudzi became the most recognised voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond.
He was a member of Zimbabwe’s KoreKore group, with Nzou Samanyanga as his totem. He also 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 several in the UK, US and Canada to perform for large audiences. In 2017 he entertained guests at the wedding of Zimbabwean businessman Wicknell Chivayo.
Mtukudzi was the father of five children and had two grandchildren. Two of his children are also musicians. His son Sam Mtukudzi , a successful musician in his own right, died in a car accident in March 2010.
Hamba kahli Tuku Mtukudzi!