South Africa joins the world, as we mourn the passing of Zimbabwe’s master of song, Oliver Mtukudzi. “Tuku”, as he was popularly known, passed on this last Wednesday, January 23rd. He was 66 years old.
Searching for an mbira sound on the guitar, he fused the Zimbabwean music style “Jiti”, the traditional drumming patterns of his clan, the Katekwe, South African mbaqanga, the marimba, Afro-Pop styles and conjured up over 67 albums with his own signature music sound, “Tuku Music”.
A recipient of many accolades and awards, in 1992 Oliver won the M-Net award for Best Soundtrack for Neria, a movie in which he also starred. In 2003 he received a pair of KORA awards (Lifetime Achievement; Best Southern African Male Artist), a Channel O Reel Music Video Award (Best African Language) and an Honorary Arts degree from the University Of Zimbabwe.
A dedicated and inspired African artist, 2004 brought a NAMA (National Arts Merit Awards) award for Best Group/Male vocalist, 2006 a ZIMA (Zimbabwe Music Awards) Music Ambassador award and, in 2008 another NAMA for Outstanding Musician. 2009 found Oliver receiving yet another Honorary M.Sc in fine arts, this one from Women’s University in Africa (Harare, Zimbabwe). 2003 also found Tuku featured on the cover of Time magazine as champion of the Zimbabwean people and their music.
Beginning his performance career in 1977, with the group Wagon Wheels, which also featured the Chimurenga great Thomas Mapfumo and legendary Zimbabwean guitarist James Chimombe, the success of their single Dzandimomotera, precipitated the release of Tuku’s successful debut album, Shoko. A collaborative soul, Mtukudzi was also an integral member of the original incarnation of Southern African “supergroup” Mahube, which also featured the likes of Louis Mhlanga, Steve Dyer, and the late Phinda Mtya. In 2011 he released Abi’ angu (Duets of My Time) which featured, amongst others, Cesaria Evora, Ringo Madlingozi, Eric Wainaina, and The Jaziel Brothers. 2016 found him doing a duet Tapera with the late Hugh Masekela (No Borders). This over 4 decade career included, Southern Africa, the African continent and diaspora and Europe.
On Tuesday, February 5th, 2019 at The Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein from 12pm – 5pm a memorial celebrating the music and life of Oliver Mtukudzi will take place. Open to the public, this celebration’s focus is Tuku’s music, with a musical program directed by fellow traveller and compatriot Steve Dyer, this is a South African cry from the heart. A cry of sorrow and loss, a cry of remembrance, a cry of joy and love. Come share with us as we celebrate this son of Zimbabwe and child of Africa.
NB:There will be no parking available inside the Joburg Theatre . Members of the public are advised to use alternative parking arrangements.
Image Courtesy: Supplied