Gone too soon

Artists describe Oliver Mtukudzi as an icon and legend

25 January 2019 | Art and Entertainment

Tributes are pouring in for Zimbabwean musician Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi, an Afro-jazz star who won a following across Africa and beyond, after he died on Wednesday aged 66.

Namibia is no exception. The self-taught guitarist passed away at a hospital in Harare, succumbing to diabetes complications. A legend in the vibrant cross-genre of Afro-jazz, Mtukudzi released 66 albums in a career that spanned 45 years.

Erna Chimu

It's indeed sad news regarding his passing. For me personally, he was and will remain my all-time favourite. He was a legendary musician, just the best, and the pride of Zimbabwe and Africa. His music made me feel and understand the universal language of music. It spoke to the soul. He has opened and paved way for African music to be heard, understood and loved all over the world. May he rest in peace. We will remain forever grateful for the music he gave us.


Tuku, thanks for the years, the husky melancholic voice, unique guitar picking style and the evocative dance moves. Last year, Zambia's jazz artist James Sakala called Elemotho after Tuku told him (James) that he should listen to Namibia's Elemotho and possibly do something together. It's a big loss indeed.

Lize Ehlers

I am shocked. I just immediately think 'Todii, what shall we do', when I think of Oliver. My heart is broken and this is so sad. We have lost a legend and it's crazy that he and Hugh passed away on the same date. Again, Todii, what shall we do?


It's just sad losing a legend, mentor and a father. Losing such a music icon is very difficult to digest and the fact that he passed away on the same day as Hugh Masekela just gets one thinking about life. I have personally worked with Tuku and I also worked with his late son Sam. It's really saddening and no words can express how I feel right now.


At the launch of my album Misunderstood I was trying to praise and appreciate him. This is something that a lot of people only do when the person is gone. We should learn to buy flowers for people to smell them and not put them on their graves.


He is one of the fathers of African music and it's a massive loss to Africa at large. We love them because our parents introduced us to them and it's really sad.

All the icons are leaving. His voice and music captured us all and made me believe that there is a future in music.