Oliver Tuku Mtukudzi: Fare Thee Well Samanyanga

January 25, 2019 Music , MUSIC/FILM/TV

Mário Pires photo



Constance van Niekerk



I can almost hear the husky voice booming from the heavens, “Pangu pese ndasakura ndazunza…” meaning “I’ve done my part I’m finished.” The elephant has fallen, Nzou Samanyanga is no more.


Gifted Zimbabwean music icon, Oliver Tuku Mtukudzi, passed on earlier this week, 23rd January, at Avenues Clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe. He succumbed to a long battle with diabetes. The day was also coincidentally the one year anniversary of the death of South African Jazz maestro and Tuku’s friend, Hugh Masekela.


Tuku was working on his 67th album and was himself turning 67 this year. He was a multi-award winner, a renowned and internationally acclaimed musician, songwriter, guitarist, philanthropist, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and business man among many other things.


His musical journey started in 1977. Since then Tuku, as he is popularly-known by his legion of fans, has performed all over the world with various artists.


His death is indeed a huge blow to the music industry, not only in Africa but the entire world.


Social media was inundated with messages from fans, fellow musicians, friends and many more pouring their hearts out expressing their hurt and pain after Tuku’s death. There are innumerable photos of people posing with the late icon. This goes to show that he was truly a people’s person.


Commenting on Tuku’s passing, South African-based, Zimbabwean-born business mogul Mutumwa Mawere had this to say, “Tuku for those who were privileged to meet him like some of us was eloquent in his humility, confidence, balance, maturity, composure and more importantly his sense of ubuntu. He understood his place in a complex music ecosystem that imposes extreme pressures on actors to forget who they are and what impact they can make by remaining grounded in culture, heritage and tradition.”


Zimbabwe’s multi-award winning prolific author and editor David Mungoshi penned this eulogy for the fallen music icon, ”It seems like yesterday when the lean sensuous singer with a soulful voice and a bouncy beat exploded onto the Zimbabwean music scene with ‘Dzandimomotera’. I could not have known that we would get personally acquainted or that he would become a brand name all over the world. Humble, creative and gifted, that’s Oliver Mtukudzi! Who will sing a passionate eulogy for Tuku, the man who made everyone cry with his tribute to Jack Sadza, a close friend of his. In response to his song “What is a hero?” the obvious answer is, “Oliver Mtukudzi, of course!” RIP Samanyanga.”


Peter Muparutsa, Zimbabwean musician, producer and composer of RUNN Family fame said, “It’s a sad day indeed, we’ve lost an icon. Rest in Peace my brother, fare thee well.”


Bob “Headmaster” Nyabinde, another Zimbabwean musician and composer was in shock and could only say, “Mashoko hatina. Todiniiko? Matonga Changamire. (We are speechless, what can we do? You have done your will Lord).


“Tuku’s music connected us as Africans. Through his music we manage to heal from the pains of our atrocious past. What I personally loved about Tuku’s music is that its melody and message resonated with all Africans irrespective of age and country of origin…he sang about the social ills. Tuku’s music played a critical role in facilitating regional integration amongst the Africans. Rest in Peace Son of the soil. Your music will live on from generations to generations to come,” said South African actor and media consultant Jacob Sabelo Ntshangase.


Tafadzwa Mteswa, Johannesburg (S.A) based Zimbabwean musician and song composer, was clearly distraught as he spoke, “Tuku and my father were cousins. They played together as Black Spirits, Tuku’s band. My father was lead guitarist, he died in October 1996. It’s the same month that Tuku’s younger brother, Robert Mtukudzi and Sam Mtowa, Tuku’s drummer died. Tuku sang the song ‘Akoromoka Awa’ as tribute to them.”


Tafadzwa goes on to say, “I was inspired by my fathers, the original Black Spirits, to be a musician. The band consisted of Oliver Mtukudzi, Robert Mtukudzi, Samuel Mtowa, Albert Kapondoro and Nicolas Kunaka. My heart is bleeding as I’ve lost a father and a mentor. I’m preparing now for my journey home to join my family during this difficult time.”


Eddie Shivambu, South African Radio Personality said, “Oliver Mtukudzi, you might be gone, but your music lives on.”


To his wife Daisy, we quote the icon’s song ‘Neria’, “Usaore moyo kani (Neria) Daisy, Mwari anewe” (Do not lose heart Daisy, God is with you).


Our condolences to the Mtukudzi family and the whole world at large. May Your Soul Rest in Peace, Oliver Tuku Mtukudzi.





Constance van Niekerk

Constance van Niekerk is a South-African based Zimbabwean-born freelance music critic, poet, photographer, educator, creative writer and blogger par excellence. She has written for The Southern Times Newspaper of Namibia as well as Zimbabwe’s foremost daily, The Herald, blogging also on Up Close and Personal with Zim Artists since 2012. Early in 2014 Constance rebranded the blog to L’Afrique Beat to reflect the interests the whole of Africa and create a continental flavour. L’ Afrique Beat features well researched and informative articles on Africa’s musical icons, entertainment, as well as the lifestyle issues of Africa.

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