Tribute: Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi

Tribute: Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi


Its Sunday the 20th of January 2019 l’m about to drive out so l randomly select Oliver Mtukudzi Greatest Hits 1998 – 2002 CD from our music collection. Three days of blasting and thoroughly enjoying Tuku’s music ,l learn with great sadness Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi had succumbed to a long battle with ill-health on the 23rd of January 2019 ironically the same day Hugh Masekela his ‘friend and brother’ died in 2018.

Tuku as he’s affectionately known by most who listen to his music leaves behind a legacy of greatness. Growing up l believed I was directly  related to Mtukudzi as we share the same totem Nzou Samanyanga (The Great Elephant).My dad would tell us  tales ( some of them probably fibs) of personal interactions  with Tuku and the amazing shows he attended.

We grow up in love with this talented musician, business-man, human rights activist, father, just a few of the many roles he occupied. I had the privilege of eventually meeting and talking to Tuku during one of his Cape Town music concerts, I’m just sorry l wasn’t able to capture a selfie moment with a great legend.


Many of you particularly those from Southern Africa are familiar with the popular drama film Neria (1993). Oliver Mtukudzi featured in this film as Jethro,Neria’s brother. This film to date in my personal view remains a classic from Zimbabwe. Released at time when a young post colonial Zimbabwe was going through cultural changes at the connection between tradition and then perceived modern western culture.

The film explored the plight of a woman (Neria) in a customary marriage where upon the sudden and untimely death of her husband realised she had no rights to the property  she had acquired together with her husband.

Drama then unfolds in a bigger struggle of asserting herself as women in a deep-rooted patriarchal culture that viewed women as second-class citizens.  Tuku’s music anchors throughout this film, the song Neria left an indelible impression in me and remains one of my all time favorites.

Mtukudzi contributed in influencing culture through his music, educating the people of Zimbabwe on HIV/ AIDS in the song Todii, remembering your roots(home) and identity when facing difficulties in  Ndafunga Dande, love and relationships in Perekedza mwana just to name a few songs among many.

Tuku sang primarly in the Shona vernacular a Bantu language spoken is Zimbabwe, he was however able to transcend across diverse cultures. Tuku is dearly loved by many South Africans and African nationals  across the globe. He also gained a huge international fan following, something that’s not easily achievable.


Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi lived his passion, he leaves to his name over 50 albums, numerous awards and achievements. He like most of us experienced many challenges but in-spite of it all, he allowed his own light to continue shining.

He was a kind, humble man, selfless with his time. People through Tuku’s music created many fond memories. His music and work will continue to create more memories and touch lives for years to come.

You ran a great race. Rest In Peace hama yangu( my relative) Nzou Samanyanga.

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