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Zimbabwe music star Oliver Mtukudzi dies aged 66

January 23, 2019

Musician Oliver Mtukudzi's distinctive style won him fans at home and around the world. Besides putting out dozens of albums during his a career spanning decades, Mtukudzi was also known as an advocate for human rights.

Oliver Mtukudzi
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/N. Bothma

Legendary Zimbabwean musician Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi passed away on Wednesday in a hospital in Harare at the age of 66, his manager said.

"He died this afternoon at a private hospital ... The funeral arrangements will be announced in due course," Mtukudzi's manager, Walter Wanyanya, told news agency DPA.

The cause of his death was not immediately known.

Mtukudzi was a prolific musician, putting out over 60 albums in his 45-year career. His songs were a distinctive blend of Zimbabwean and South African rhythms that were known as "Tuku music."

Mtukudzi was also known for singing in three of his country's languages — Shona, Ndebele and English — and for featuring traditional Shona instruments such as the marimba and mbira.

'My role as a musician is to raise awareness'

News of Mtukudzi's death spread quickly and sparked an outpouring of tributes online, with Zimbabwe's government expressing its "heartfelt condolences" to his family.

"Zimbabwe music is poorer without our music legend," Zimbabwe's information ministry tweeted.

"We've lost an icon," wrote Zimbabwean lawmaker Temba Mliswa on Twitter.

The ruling African National Congress in neighboring South Africa also tweeted: "Rest in peace."

Mtukudzi's songs often included lyrics addressing societal concerns, including HIV/AIDS and alcohol abuse, as well as encouraging self-respect and using Shona proverbs.

Later in his career, Mtukudzi became deeply involved in charity work and also served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

"My role as a musician is to raise awareness and motivate wider responses to the social and economic problems that continue to deprive children of a good development," Mtukudzi said of his time as a goodwill ambassador.

"I am glad I can play my part in speaking on HIV prevention, against abuse, molestation, stigma and to make our continent a better place for our children," he said.

rs/msh (dpa, AFP, AP)

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