Veteran Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi has died. The 66-year-old music superstar, whose career took him to the international stage, has been hospitalised for the past month.

Tuku passed away at the Avenues Clinic in Harare. Tuku was also a renowned businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Region.

With 66 albums to his name, the music maestro was well respected, and he is undoubtedly one of Zimbabwe’s most recognisable artists, commanding a huge following across Africa, and the world.

Mtukudzi began performing in 1977 when he joined the Wagon Wheels, and one of his early hits Ndipeiwo Zano, which was released in 1978 catapulted him to stardom. He toured the world with his band The Black Spirits, luring multitudes of fans, and proving that language is not a barrier in securing a fan base outside Zimbabwe, and indeed Africa.

Oliver Mtukudzi and Winky D perform a duet at Hifa in the Harare Gardens on Friday. Photo: Shorai Murwira

Tuku sang predominantly in Shona (KoreKore dialect), but he also recorded in Ndebele and English. He also incorporated elements of different musical Shona traditions, infusing marimba, and hosho (Shona traditional instruments) giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as Tuku Music. 

Tuku contributed immensely to the nurturing of Zimbabwean music talents, and he received numerous accolades for his work. The musician was honoured by the University of Zimbabwe in 2010, when he was awarded with The International Council of Africana Womanism Award, for his contribution and role in uplifting African women through his work in the arts.

An outpouring of tributes has already flooded social media, as fans in Zimbabwe and across the world mourn, celebrate and remember a musical giant.

Two legends, Oliver Mtukudzi (R) and Habib Koité (L) perform a duet at Hifa in the Harare Gardens on Sunday, 7 May, 2017. Photo: Shorai Murwira/This is Africa