Oliver Mtukudzi, Zimbabwe’s Most Renowned Afro-jazz Music Legend, Dies

Oliver mtukudzi

Background information
Born September 22, 1952
HighfieldHarare, Zimbabwe
Origin Zimbabwe
Died 23 January 2019 (aged 66)
Harare, Zimbabwe
Genres Afro Jazz
Instruments Guitars
Years active 1977-2019

Oliver mtukudzi came to prominence in the 1970s as one of voices of the revolution fighting white-minority rule.

His lyrics often carried social messages about HIV/Aids and coded political commentary.

His 2001 song Wasakara, meaning “You Are Too Old”, was banned as it was seen as a reference to leader Robert Mugabe, who was ousted 16 years later aged 93.

The singer and guitarist mixed several different styles to create his own distinctive Afro-jazz sound, known to his fans as “Tuku Music”.

In a long career he released 67 albums and toured the world.

Mtukudzii grew up in Highfield, a ghetto neighborhood in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare and began performing in 1977 when he joined the Wagon Wheels, a band that also featured Thomas Mapfumo and fellow legendary guitarist James Chimombe.

Their single Dzandimomotera went gold and Tuku’s first album followed, which was also a major success. Mtukudzi is also a contributor to Mahube, Southern Africa’s “supergroup”.

With his husky voice, Oliver Mtukudzi has become the most recognized voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond.

A member of Zimbabwe’s KoreKore group, with Nzou Samanyanga as his totem, he sings in the nation’s dominant Shona language along with Ndebele and English.

He also incorporates elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as Tuku Music. Oliver Mtukudzi  has had a number of tours around the world.

He has been on several tours in the UK, US and Canada to perform for large audiences. In 2017 Mtukudzi entertained guests at the wedding of Zimbabwean businessman Wicknell Chivayo.

Mtukudzi is the father of five children and has two grandchildren. Two of his children are also musicians. His son Sam Mtukudzi, a successful musician in his own right, died in a car accident in March 2010 and in 2013, he released an album titled “Sarawoga”, in tribute to his son Tuku died on 23 January 2019. Mtukudzi was born in a family of six.

Oliver mtukudzi Discography


  1. 1978 Ndipeiwo Zano (re-released 2000)
  2. 1979 Chokwadi Chichabuda
  3. 1979 Muroi Ndiani?’
  4. 1980 Africa (re-released 2000)
  5. 1981 Shanje
  6. 1981 Pfambi
  7. 1982 Maungira
  8. 1982 Please Ndapota
  9. 1983 Nzara
  10. 1983 Oliver’s Greatest Hits
  11. 1984 Hwema Handirase
  12. 1985 Mhaka
  13. 1986 Gona
  14. 1986 Zvauya Sei?
  15. 1987 Wawona
  16. 1988 Nyanga Yenzou
  17. 1988 Strange, Isn’t It?
  18. 1988 Sugar Pie
  19. 1989 Grandpa Story
  20. 1990 Chikonzi
  21. 1990 Pss Pss Hallo!
  22. 1990 Shoko
  23. 1991 Mutorwa
  24. 1992 Rombe
  25. 1992 Rumbidzai Jehova
  26. 1992 Neria Soundtrack’
  27. 1993 Son of Africa
  28. 1994 Ziwere MuKobenhavn
  29. 1995 Was My Child
  30. 1996 Svovi yangu
  31. 1995 The Other Side: Live in Switzerland
  32. 1995 Ivai Navo
  33. 1997 Ndega Zvangu (re-released 2001)
  34. 1997 Chinhamwe
  35. 1998 Dzangu Dziye
  36. 1999 Tuku Music
  37. 2000 Paivepo
  38. 2001 Neria
  39. 2001 Bvuma (Tolerance)
  40. 2002 Shanda soundtrack
  41. 2002 Vhunze Moto
  42. 2003 Shanda (Alula Records)
  43. 2003 Tsivo (Revenge)
  44. 2004 Greatest Hits Tuku Years
  45. 2004 Mtukudzi Collection 1991-1997
  46. 2004 Mtukudzi Collection 1984-1991
  47. 2005 Nhava(Tolerance)
  48. 2006 Wonai
  49. 2007 Tsimba Itsoka
  50. 2008 Dairai (Believe)
  51. 2010 Rudaviro
  52. 2010 Kutsi Kwemoyo (compilation)
  53. 2011 Rudaviro
  54. 2011 “Abi’angu” (Duets of my time)
  55. 2012 “Sarawoga”
  56. 2015 “Mukombe Wemvura”


In 2011 the Forbes magazine included Oliver Mtukudzi in the Top 40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa in a list that included Akon, Chinua Achebe and Didier Drogba. The message in his music prompted the United Nations to consider him as the UNICEF Goodwill ambassador in Eastern and Southern Africa for children development and HIV awareness.


Oliver Mtukudzi  has many awards to his name; these include international awards and local ones.

  • 1985–1988: One of the Best Selling Artists in Zimbabwe.
  • 1992: M-Net Best Soundtrack (Neria
  • 2002: KORA Award for Best Arrangement in 2002, for Ndakuwara.
  • 2002: SAMA Finalist (Best Traditional/African Adult Contemporary DVD) Live at the Cape Town Jazz Festival.
  • 2002: National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) in 2002 and 2004 for Best Group / Male vocalist
  • 2002: SAMA Finalist (Best Traditional/African Adult Contemporary DVD) Live At The Cape Town Jazz Festival
  • 2003: KORA Award for Best African male artist and Lifetime Achievement Award in August 2003.
  • 2003: Reel Award Winner for Best African Language in 2003.
  • 2003: An honorary degree from the University of Zimbabwe in December 2003
  • 2003: NAMA Award 2003: Best Group/Artist.
  • 2004: NAMA Award 2004: Best Group/Artist.
  • 2005: NAMA Award 2005: National Arts Personality of the Year.
  • 2006: NAMA Award 2006: Outstanding Album (NHAVA).
  • 2006: ZIMA (Best Music Ringing Tone Handiro Dambudziko).
  • 2006: ZIMA (Music Ambassador).
  • 2007: NAMA Award 2007: Best Musician/Group.
  • 2007: Cultural Ambassador – Zimbabwe Tourism Association.
  • 2008: NAMA Award 2008: (Outstanding Musician).
  • 2009: Honorary MSc (Fine Arts) Degree awarded by the Women’s University in Africa in 2009.
  • 2010: MTN SAMA Awards recognized his son’s achievements in music.
  • 2010: University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and The International Council of Africana Womanism (ICAW) Award: recognition of his luminary role in uplifting African women through his artistic work – music and a diversity of art forms – offered as community development at his arts academy at Pakare Paye in Norton.
  • 2011: Titled Zimbabwe’s first UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern Africa.
  • 2011: Honored by the Government of Italy with the prestigious Cavalier of the Order of Merit Award in recognition of his work as an international musician. (The award is what the Knighthood is to England).
  • 2014: Honorary Doctorate (Ph.D.) International Institute of Philanthropy.
  • 2014: Honorary Doctorate from Great Zimbabwe University (GZU). Doctor of Philosophy in Ethnomusicology & Choreography (Honorees Causa).
  • 2017: All Africa Music Awards, (AFRIMA) African Legend Award


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