Afro-Jazz legend, Oliver Mtukudzi, declared a national hero
Oliver Mtukudzi affectionately referred to as Tuku, has been declared a national hero by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Being declared a national hero is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon an individual in Zimbabwe and Tuku has become the first musician to be given that honour.
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe approached the government seeking to confer the honour on the musical icon. The head of the National Art Council of Zimbabwe said, “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. His works deserve great honour.”
In a tweet, the President announced that he was happy that Mtukudzi had received the honour because “although he is no longer with us, his music will never die.”
This afternoon, while paying a condolence visit to his family, I was proud to announce that Oliver Mtukudzi has been declared a national hero. Though he is no longer with us, his music will never die pic.twitter.com/hHypxt5uicGet breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) January 24, 2019
The 66-year-old Oliver Mtukudzi succumbed to diabetes on Wednesday and in addition to being the country’s best-known musical export, Mtukudzi was a businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Region. At the time of his death, he had released 58 albums.
The tributes have been pouring in since then from all over the world including from Sauti Sol who released a tribute video performed by Savara Mudigi and Bien-Aimé Baraza just last night.
— SAUTI SOL (@sautisol) January 24, 2019
Larry Madowo who also once interviewed the icon remembered Oliver, “The purpose of the song is to give life and hope, to heal the broken hearts.”
'The purpose of song is to give life and hope, to heal the broken hearts,' Oliver Mtukudzi told me in our last chat in 2016. He & Hugh Masekela were always fun, insightful guests for everyone on my old show. Thank you for the music. I'm truly heartbroken today #RIPTuku pic.twitter.com/m34uD6o2dj
— Larry Madowo (@LarryMadowo) January 23, 2019
Oliver was a global icon because he appealed to people of all cultures and generations. He made sure that his music had a global impact and message. In addition to being a fighter for social justice and change, he was also seen as a freedom fighter. In 2001 one of his songs, Wasakara meaning You are too old was banned as it was perceived as a dig toward Robert Mugabe.