Oliver Mtukudzi ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi (22 September 1952 – 23 January 2019) was a legendary Zimbabwean musician from Norton, Mashonaland West Province.
The late was not only an amazing singer, songwriter, and performer but also a businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Region and was therefore considered to have been Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognized cultural icon for all ages groups.
Arguably Zimbabwean’s most venerated musician, the late Oliver Mtukudzi and his Band The Black Mambazo churned out some 60 albums since the late 1970s.
Mtukudzi who was born and raised in Highfield, a ghetto neighborhood in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare kicked off his musical career at a youthful age of 23 in 1975 when he realised his debut single ‘Stop After Orange’.
His career took off in 1977 when he first featured on a hit single ” Dzandimomoter” with the Wagon Wheels, a band that also featured Thomas Mapfumo and fellow legendary guitarist James Chimombe. This particular hit was inspired by Zimbabwe’s war of liberation and was a major success.
That same year is when he turned professional and took up a solo career. It was soon followed by Tuku’s first solo album, which was also a major success.
With his husky voice, Tuku became the most recognized voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he earned a devoted following all across Africa and beyond.
A member of Zimbabwe’s Korekore tribe, Tuku sang in the nation’s dominant Shona language, with a fusion of both English and Ndebele thus attracting a wide African and international audience.
He incorporated elements of various musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as ‘Tuku Music’. The style evolved into a distinct Zimbabwean sound, incorporating traditional forms of the mbira, South African mbaqanga and the popular Zimbabwean music style called jiti.
Mtukudzi has managed to tour across the world including places such as UK, US, Canada where he has performed for large audiences but regularly performed in South Africa and Mozambique.
Olilver Mtukudzi was also a great family man who had five children and two grandchildren. Two of his children followed his footsteps and took up music as a career. His late son Sam Mtukudzi, a successful musician in his own right, died in a car accident on March 2010.
In 2013, he released an album title “Sorogwa”, in tribute to his son. Mtukudzi was born in a family of six.
Mtukudzi’s talent and unique style has scored him a couple of awards like the, 2011 when he was honoured by the Government of Italy with the prestigious Cavaliere of the Order of Merit Award, in recognition of his work as an international musician. He also received a Honorary Doctorate (PHD) from the International Institute of Philanthropy.
This musical genius will most definitely be missed by many, most importantly for his great voice and lyrical expertise.