Oliver Mtukudzi had a long, colourful career

Oliver Mtukudzi had a long, colourful career

Oliver Mtukudzi had a long, colourful career

The death of Zimbabwean music icon Oliver Mtukudzi has sent shock waves even to Malawians artists who have paid tributes to the the King of "Tuku Music" who has died at the age of 66. "What is left is to celebrate his life".

Tuku, as he was fondly known, had been battling diabetes for the past one month.

Mtukudzi came to prominence at a time - the late '70s - when black Zimbabweans were waging an armed resistance against white minority rule.

Tuku, as he was widely known, avoided political controversy.

"As Zanu PF party, the government of Zimbabwe and the President of Zimbabwe and the entire Zimbabwe family we are representing, we have agreed that Tuku is a hero and we agreed to accord him a national hero status", he said.

"He was a nation-builder. For such a plain fact, we, mere mortals, can only acknowledge as we all hereby do", he said. It was the title song of a movie of the same name.

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On his part, Malawi legend Lucius Banda described Mtukudzi as Africa's music custodian.

He sang, played guitar and danced while directing a tight band of guitarists, keyboards, percussionists and dancers.

Tembo's style of music that resembles Zimbabwean Mbira music as he is a Sena, a southern Malawian tribe that has a common ancestry said: "He [Mtukudzi] was my mentor!"

The death of the 66-year-old musician has united Zimbabweans and politicians from across the divide visited his homestead today to pay their last respects. "He was like a father figure", said MacDonald Chidavaenzi, a songwriter and producer. (Mtukudzi donated a song, "Deaf Hear", to UNICEF's Day of the African Child commemorations in 2010.) Mtukudzi also nurtured several music talents in Zimbabwe at his Pakare Paye Arts Academy in Harare's dormitory town of Norton and collaborated with many nascent artists.

The ruling African National Congress in South Africa tweeted simply "Rest in peace".

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