By Pauline Katethya.
It has been a sombre day for many people in the world following the demise of Afro-Jazz legend, Oliver Mtukudzi. Oliver “Tuku” was a Zimbabwean musician, businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Region.
He died on Wednesday at the age of 66 after a long battle with diabetes. Oliver was famously known by his song ‘Todii’ which received massive love and airplay in many parts of the world.
Apart from singing he was also a songwriter, actor, writer and film director.
Tuku was a legend whose music touched millions of people across the world, even those who did not understand what he said. He was proof that music could speak up for the people and help in making the world a better place. In his songs he spoke of people’s everyday life struggles.
“I sing because I am trying to get through to people. An artist is supposed to represent themselves and everyone. Not just a certain dialect or language.” – Oliver Mtukudzi
In an interview, On the Trend with Larry Madowo on September 2016, Oliver passionately talked about his love for music. He said that his music was meant to bring life and hope to the people.
“The purpose of a song is to give life and hope and to heal the broken hearts. if I come up with a song it’s supposed to touch a heart, not to impress.” I don’t do good compositions but I do good songs. He said.
Oliver appreciated his culture and heritage so much that he preached about it in his songs. He was also passionate about promoting African Music.
With 67 albums to his name, he was Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognized cultural icon of all time. His music career began in the 1970s with a group called Wagon Wheels. He later left the group to pursue a solo career. His lyrics often carried social messages about HIV/Aids and coded political commentary. One of his songs ‘Wasakara’, meaning “You Are Too Old”, was banned as it was seen as a reference to leader Robert Mugabe. The singer and guitarist mixed several different styles to create his own distinctive Afro-jazz sound, known to his fans as “Tuku Music”.
Mtukudzi told Forbes Africa in 2016 that he did not view his music journey as a career.
“I am yet to decide on a career to take on. This is not a career for me. I am just doing me.”
He will be remembered as one of Africa’s most renowned and internationally recognized cultural icon. His music touched many souls as it was inspiring, hopeful and also entertaining. His performances on stage were energetic and thrilling despite his age. His authenticity and legacy is something that will still live on. The people of Zimbabwe will also remember for his philanthropy and human rights work.
Tuku was surely One of the greatest African musicians.