Thursday 24 January 2019


The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) has approached the Government seeking conferment of national hero status on music icon Oliver Mtukudzi.

Mtukudzi died yesterday afternoon at the Avenues Clinic in Harare where he had been admitted in the intensive care unit. He was 66.

His management did not immediately disclose details about his death, but Tuku had been battling diabetes for a long time. He had been inactive in showbiz for the last couple of months as his health deteriorated. 

Speaking at the musician’s home in Norton last night, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry confirmed the deliberations over Tuku’s status.

She said the Government would consider a “special honour” for the legendary musician. She was among the first batch of mourners to visit Tuku’s home to pay their condolences.

“He was a legend. He is not only a music hero for the country. He is a hero of Africa. He deserves a special honour, but things will become clear in the next days,” said Coventry. 

She said Tuku was a friend, with whom she shared numerous ideas.  “We had mutual respect for each other. Last year we sat on the same panel when we were talking about philanthropy work. I last spoke to him towards the end of last year when we met at the airport. He was coming from a tour and I was travelling to South Africa.

“We talked about the future of the arts industry and he was telling me about young people he was working with. He was indeed a legend. As Government, we are prepared to honour our legends in various sectors.”

NACZ director Nicholas Moyo, who was also among the mourners in Norton last night, said: “We have approached the Government with our request for Tuku to be considered for national hero status. The formal procedures have started and we are here to talk to the family so that we get the ball rolling.

“It would be great to have him as the first artiste to get such honour. He deserves the status because of his hard work and leadership in the sector.

“He was a hero on his own and a hero of the people. I had the privilege to work with him personally and I am satisfied that his works deserve great honour. 

“However, what matters to us most is not the status. What matters most is the heritage that he has left to the arts industry at large. His works will live forever.” 

The late Mtukudzi is father of five children and has 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.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa yesterday said he learnt with deep shock and great sadness of the death of international music icon Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, describing him as an expression of Zimbabwean identity and the country’s cultural ambassador.
The legendary musician died at the Avenues Clinic in Harare yesterday after a long battle with diabetes.

In a statement last night, President Mnangagwa said: “It was with deep sense of shock and great sadness that I learnt of the death of our own legendary musician and artist, Dr Oliver Mtukudzi, who died at the Avenues Clinic, Harare, this afternoon.”
President Mnangagwa said Dr Mtukudzi raised Zimbabwe’s flag high wherever he performed.

“An international icon, the late Dr Mtukudzi has been our cultural ambassador throughout his illustrious musical career raising our national flag high wherever he went to perform here at home, on the African continent, and throughout the world,” he said.

The Head of State said Dr Mtukudzi was an expression of Zimbabwean identity.

“He was an expression of Zimbabwean identity, a man of humble character, very affable and engaging in his own unique way through Tuku Music,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said Zimbabwe was poorer with his death.

“The whole nation is all the poorer with his passing on. On behalf of Government, the party Zanu-PF, my family and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to the Mtukudzi family, especially his wife, Daisy and children during this, their dark hour of grief. May they derive comfort from the knowledge that the arts world in particular and our Nation as a whole, share their deep pain and great loss. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace,” said President Mnangagwa.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa also consoled the Mtukudzi family in a statement.

“Government conveys its heartfelt and sincere condolences to the Mtukudzi family over the passing on of Zimbabwe and international music icon, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi. This is not only a loss to the Mtukudzi family but a loss to our country, the whole of Africa and humanity at large. Through his music Tuku touched millions of hearts around the globe,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Dr Mtukudzi sang love, social justice, social trials and tribulations of human existence.

“Tuku Music is a global symbol of Zimbabwean art and culture. He ably represented Zimbabwe on the regional, continental and international stage, providing education through his music that was rich in social commentary and entertaining at the same time.

“Music never dies, and the rich legacy he has left with us is here to stay for generations. Tuku was a faithful ambassador for our country and through his music he managed to bring people together and in his death we are united in mourning,” she said. Herald


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