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20 Great Songs From Oliver Mtukudzi

Here are some of the best tracks from the Zimbabwean jazz legend.

As the legendary Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi is laid to rest today, we remember his four-decade long contribution to music.

There is no childhood, especially that of a Zimbabwean child, that is complete without Mtukudzi. He is a musician who has always been an extension to a household, and he will continue to be so for many years to come. And not just for Zimbabweans, but for every single individual from all over the world that took delight in listening to his timeless offerings.

Mtukudzi released over 60 albums, each one proving better than the one that preceded it. His genre of Afro-jazz, with the characteristic mbira, told numerous stories and valuable lessons through the richly metaphorical Shona language.

There is a Tuku song for every stage in one's life and for every grievous and joyous moment.

Mtukudzi worked with numerous other musical giants including his dear friend Hugh Masekela, Ringo Madlingozi, The Black Spirits, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Joss Stone.

As the world mourns the passing of a true music connoisseur and creator, we celebrate his legacy with some of his most beloved songs.

Listen to these songs in our Oliver Mtukudzi playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.


"Neria"

Mtukudzi tells of the sorrowful plight of a widow in Zimbabwe after she loses her husband. This is perhaps his most internationally recognized record.

"Todii"

In this record, Mtukudzi asks his fellow Africans what they'll do to get rid of the scourge of HIV/AIDS on the continent before it claims the lives of even more.

"Mutserendende"

Mtukudzi speaks of how, unlike the simpler lives of his ancestors, his own life is far more challenging and akin to constantly climbing a mountain.

"Ndagarwa Nhaka"

This record explores the Shona tradition of 'nhaka' which speaks to how a recently widowed woman is allowed to marry her husband's brother so as to be able to remain in the family.

"Kunze Kwadoka"

In this jovial record, Mtukudzi tells the story of a young woman who is out having fun and how she ought to get home soon because it's getting dark outside.

"Wasakara"

This record was banned from radio stations in Zimbabwe at some point as it spoke, although not directly, about how then dictator Robert Mugabe had become raggedy and needed to step down from the presidency.

"Ndakuvara"

Ndakuvara translates to "I am hurt." In this track, Mtukudzi speaks to how he is hurt whilst tending to the cows, and how those around him should hurry and call the mother of his children.

"Mabasa"

This hauntingly beautiful song speaks of how one has just received terrible news and how that news then needs to be relayed to the elders of the family.

"Raki"

Mtukudzi says that there are some men who survive purely by luck and no greater driving force outside of themselves. In this record he explains some of the reasons why he feels this happens.

"Pindurai Mambo"

Whilst this record sounds deceptively jovial, it in fact is a plea to God to answer the prayers of those who are suffering and constantly in want.

"Hazvireve"

In this record, Mtukudzi speaks of a father who is trying to assure his child he had in his youth that he loves her, despite not having been in her life.

"Ndima Ndapedza"

Mtukudzi speaks about how he has done his work and completed it - there is nothing left to do. Perhaps the most fitting record to say farewell to a man whose music was so transcendent.

"Mbabvu Yangu"

In this slow-paced and almost reflective record, Mtukudzi talks about his wife Daisy, and describes how she has filled his life and is the only one he sees - his mbabvu or 'rib'.

"Wagona Fani"

This record is filled with gratitude as Mtukudzi thanks his wife for raising their children and further praises her for having raised them so well.

"Tozeza"

Once again, what sounds like quite a pleasantly upbeat song proves to be the story of child asking why his constantly drunk father beats his mother.

"Tsika Dzedu"

In this record, Mtukudzi reflects on how he feels Zimbabweans are losing some of their customs and traditions and asks where they are all going.

"Shamiso/Watitsvata"

In this record, Mtukudzi sings about the joy and excitement he has after his daughter has recently gotten married.

"Mai Varamba"

Mtukudzi tells the simple story of how the mother of a certain household says no to a particular request and how nothing more can be done - hers is the final say.

Oliver Mtukudzi ft. Hugh Masekela "Tapera"

The two legends and dear friends collaborate in this transfixing record which speaks to how the youth are perishing and in turn, we as a people are perishing as a result.

"Chiri Nani"

In this record, Mtukudzi talks about how everything has its owner and that one must always ask the owner for permission to use it.

Listen to these songs in our Oliver Mtukudzi playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.




News Brief
Photo credit should read AFP via Getty Images

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