Johannesburg – Oliver Mtukudzi, 66, performed his last few shows, including two in South Africa late last year, through pain from complications of the diabetes that eventually took his life.
A band member who refused to be named out of respect for the family said the Zimbabwe music legend’s feet would swell and he often complained about feeling weak in his last days on stage.
“He would, however, play on and would not hear of any talk about a show being cancelled. Tuku loved his art and his fans,” said the band member.
Mtkukudzi was particularly quite ill when the band drove for a show from Joburg to Brits in December. “I remember him being silent all the way because his feet were hurting. Surprisingly when we handed him his guitar for tuning, he miraculously came alive and was ready to jump on stage. Fortunately, it rained so much that day and the show was cancelled. He jokingly said tuning his guitar had healed him and would have performed.”
The cancellation of the show triggered a few events that ultimately led to his final moments.
On December 22, the global superstar with 67 albums under his belt, again fell sick at home. He complained about loss of energy and was rushed to hospital.
But the family and doctors were soon happy with his steady recovery resulting in him being discharged on the morning of Christmas Day.
“There was a big Christmas lunch at his house with his children, wife, grandchildren, artists from his arts centre, family and friends. He even played his guitar for his guests. It was a great day,” he said.
The legend was, however, never the same after the hospitalisation and his feet were always hurting. Things took a turn for the worse on Monday when he was again struggling to breathe.
“Mama (Mtukudzi’s wife Daisy) called his doctor in the early hours of the morning. The doctor said it was side effects of the diabetes medicine,” said the band member.
According to him, Tuku spent the next day with his family but later suffered acute shortages of breath and was rushed to the Avenues Clinic Hospital in Harare in the early hours of the morning.
He later died the same day.