'Tuku' Mtukudzi's death brings rare moment of unity

27 January 2019 - 00:00 By RAY NDLOVU

Zimbabwean jazz musician Oliver Mtukudzi will be buried today at his rural home in Madziva, in the Mashonaland Central province.
In a career that spanned more than four decades, Mtukudzi was Zimbabwe's foremost jazz musician.
Affectionately known as "Tuku" or "Samanyanga", his clan name, the musician died on Wednesday afternoon at the Avenues Clinic in Harare. He succumbed to months of illness with diabetes. He was 66 years old.
The family declined an offer for Mtukudzi to be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare - the state burial ground. Nevertheless, the government will pay all the funeral expenses, including for a farewell concert.
The concert was held yesterday at the National Sports Stadium.
Zimbabweans took to social media this week in a campaign dubbed #fillupnationalsports - an invitation for people to fill the 60,000-seat stadium to honour the musician.
Top Zimbabwean artists, among them Jah Prayzah, Thomas Mapfumo, Aleck Macheso, Sulumani Chimbetu, Albert Nyathi and Mechanic Manyeruke, performed at the concert yesterday.
Another social media campaign, #dhukufortuku, went viral on Friday, urging women to dress in black and wear doeks (headscarves) to honour Mtukudzi.
Since the news of his death, the state broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, has been playing Mtukudzi's music.
His songs have also been played on car radios and across many bars and restaurants in Harare.
On Thursday, Mtukudzi was declared a national hero by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa said the decision had been unanimous by the government, given the musician's "influence and global appeal".
"The nation has been robbed of a hero and I want to say to the Mtukudzi family that the whole country is mourning with you," said Mnangagwa.
Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, described Mtukudzi as "a peace icon".
Divided by politics and a worsening economy over the past few weeks, Mtukudzi's death has been a source of rare unity among Zimbabweans who have faced rising costs of basic food and petrol, and a currency shortage.
Mtukudzi often said that he wrote music for the people and wanted to mirror the realities of society.
Kirsty Coventry, the sports and arts minister, said at the farewell concert yesterday that Mtukudzi would be missed.
"He is going to be sorely missed. He was a man who lived to unify people. He lived and loved his country. I hope that moving forward, we will be a proud and unified Zimbabwe," said Coventry.

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