Statement of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation on the passing of Oliver Mtukudzi.

January 24, 2019

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) would like to join millions of Africans across the continent and beyond, in conveying our deepest condolences to the family and friends of cultural worker and activist, Oliver Mtukudzi.

For many years, Mtukudzi, enthralled us with his songs which spoke hope into the hearts of millions of his followers while simultaneously providing commentary about their social conditions.

Below we publish a fitting tribute to Oliver Mtukudzi by Mr Peter Tladi, to which we align ourselves as the TMF.

May Tuku’s soul rest in eternal peace!


A Tribute to Oliver Mtukudzi

by Peter Tladi

How does one encapsulate a legend in just a few words? Impossible. Oliver Mtukudzi is not a man that you can capture in a few words. This is indeed a sad day for the industry, for the African Continent, for the world, but I think there are many people like me who are feeling a personal loss because Oliver was more than an artist, he felt like he was a personal friend to every single person who listened to his music. We personalised him, he was someone close, someone, who somehow lived in our lives through his music.

He has been quoted as saying: “It’s the people. I get all of my inspiration from the people. “ A people’s man he was indeed.

This is a sad moment for me, as, over the past 21 years, Oliver has been more than an artist performing at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival; he was invested in our long term relationship, our relationship went beyond the festival producers and artist performing, he was a family friend, he was invested in the success of the festival, invested in the music, invested to giving quality performance over and over again, invested in the fans, invested in the music culture, invested in healing souls, invested in the community, invested in sharing his gift with the whole world. The headline, “Tuku, the gift that keeps on giving” summarises who this man is.

Louis Armstrong once said, “musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them.” Oliver Mtukudzi never stopped. At 66, he performed at the 21st Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, on the 29th of September 2018, with such youth and vigour. He filled the Mbira stage to capacity with people of different backgrounds, young and old, they danced and sang the whole time, he brought the house down with his set as they shouted, “we want more.” And to think, this was not his first time performing at the festival. His popularity withstands the hands of time. His performance felt new all the time.

In 2015, we announced the late Hugh Masekela and Oliver Mtukudzi as artists on the bill.

Yesterday, the 23rd of January, exactly a year after Bra Hugh’s loss, we announced the loss of Oliver Mtukudzi. These were soul brothers. Performing side to side. Always giving a performance of their lives.

“Our friendship went beyond the stage, to him inviting me recently to Zimbabwe, paying for my trip for his 60th birthday, opening my eyes to being more than a musician, as we visited one of the schools that he built, all I could think of was musicians how are we giving back? He inspired a lot of us.”

Legends do not die; they live on in the hearts of the people. Mtukudzi won the heart of the people. While others search and yearn for this kind of love, Oliver Mtukudzi experienced this kind of love. Evidenced in the love of those who enjoyed his music – the fans.

Sing on, Dance on old friend; may your soul rest in peace.

**Peter Tladi is the founder of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

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