OLIVER ‘TUKU’ MTUKUDZI

Musician – songwriter

Oliver Mtukudzi was born in Highfield, a high density suburb in the Zimbabwean capitol, Harare, in 1952.  He was the oldest of seven children.  He had a keen interest in music from an early age although his parents did not initially share his enthusiasm in this regard.

He joined the Wagon Wheels, a band which also featured Thomas Mapfumo and James Chimombe, in 1977.  Through the good offices of Paul Tangi Mhova Mkondo, a music promoter, they landed gigs at the Mutanga Restaurant and Night Club.  They released a single called Dzandimomotera which went gold and Tuku soon released his first, and successful, album. Mtukudzi also contributed to Mahube, described by many as Southern Africa’s first “supergroup”.

Prior to Zimbabwean Independence, Mtukudzi’s music related to the political environment at the time and the challenges of living in a racially segregated society.  After Independence his emphasis switched to tolerance, peace-building and the rights of women and children.

Mtukudzi sang in his mother tongue, Shona, integrating it with English and Ndebele. Incorporating different musical styles, his style of music became known as Tuku Music.  Over the years he established an International reputation and did many tours to the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.  His works have been covered by many artists, both local and international.

He died on 23 January, 2019, at the the Avenues clinic in Harare from complications related to diabetes.  He was 66 years old.

Mtukudzi had five children and two grandchildren.  His son, Sam, a successful music producer, died in a car accident in March 2010.  In 2013 Mtukudzi released an album, Sarawoga, in tribute to his son.

(With acknowledgements to Wikipedia).