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Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi HONOURED In United States of America (USA)

Celebrated cultural icon, Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi ’s awards cabinet continues to fill up! Having been denied a visa to perform in the U...

Celebrated cultural icon, Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi’s awards cabinet continues to fill up!

Having been denied a visa to perform in the United States of America (USA), Tuku still travelled to the North American country on a different travel permit. 

The superstar was invited to attend the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), which took place in Seattle, Washington, USA, last week.

While he was unable to serenade his fans, having postponed his tour to May this year, his hosts had a big surprise for him.

On Monday last week, Tuku was accorded special recognition for his “inspiration and enduring commitment to ending Aids”, Through the CROI2017 special award

In an acceptance speech, Dr Mtukudzi, whose music has served as the backdrop for over 25 Aids documentaries across the world, thanked CROI for the award and dedicated the gong to all the “unsung heroes in Zimbabwe (nurses, doctors and HIV/Aids researchers and organisations and many others) who have and are still working hard in the fight to help end Aids”.

Tuku travelled with his wife Daisy and manager Sam Mataure to the annual event, which was attended by over 4 500 delegates in Seattle, Washington, at the Washington State Convention Centre.

Speaking from the conference in the USA, Dr Mtukudzi’s manager, Mataure, confirmed their planned tour had been put on ice because of visa problems.

“We were supposed to have performed four other gigs here in the US but we did have visa issues because the ones we ended up applying for were not allowing us to perform. So we postponed the shows to May/June,” said Mataure.

He added: “However, the award that Dr Mtukudzi received here is a big one because the conference attracts delegates from all over the world and it has been ongoing for more than 20 years.”

Mtukudzi himself acknowledged that the award was “very important”, as “it means that my work and efforts to respond to Aids are recognised and appreciated at such an esteemed gathering”.

In his speech, the celebrated Zimbabwean superstar spoke of the role of art in the fight against HIV and Aids.

“Well, from my point of view, the role of art is the same as the role of the artiste, which is to highlight the human condition and the issues that affect society. Art is a powerful communication tool, which allows people to positively engage in dialogue.

“In this way art speaks to people’s conscience, which influences their attitudes and behaviour while giving life and hope to their aspirations,” explained Dr Mtukudzi.

He added: “My music calling has allowed me to touch a vast number of people in many different ways. I focus on social messages whose themes include respect, restraint, tolerance, self-discipline, and peace throughout the world.

“As an artiste the lack of knowledge and awareness of Aids and associated stigma grabbed my mind and I felt that we could make a difference by addressing this through my music.

“This award is a symbol that the purpose of my art is being realised. I admit that a lot of ground has been covered in Zimbabwe and globally in the fight against Aids but we still need to make a lot of effort before it is eradicated.”

He also highlighted his own contribution towards fighting ignorance and lack of health facilities in Zimbabwe.

“Back home in Zimbabwe, I have contributed to the construction of Murongwe Primary School and a Clinic in Murongwe, Dande, a remote rural area in Mashonaland Central. Murongwe Primary School provides education to some HIV and Aids orphaned children who once had to walk up to 20 kilometres just to get education.

“Murongwe Clinic offers among other services, Voluntary HIV and Aids testing, counselling and male circumcision services. In the near future it will soon offer Anti-Retroviral Drugs to the community.”
CROI brings together top basic, translational, and clinical researchers from around the world to share the latest studies, important developments, and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV and Aids, and related infectious diseases.

It is a global model of collaborative science and the premier international venue for bridging basic and clinical investigation to clinical practice in the field of HIV and related viruses. The event took place from Monday February 13 to Thursday February 16.

Over his four decades career in music, Dr Mtukudzi has received several other awards, honorary degrees and recognitions from several international organisations, universities and governments around the world.
He has been honoured by the government of Italy with the prestigious Cavaliere of the Order of Merit Award in recognition of his work as an international musician — (the award is what the Knighthood is to England).

In 2015, the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture recognised him for his “Outstanding Life Long Contribution to the South African Music Industry”.

Recently, he won the Breaking Through the Borders Award courtesy of the Southern African Music Rights Association (Samro).

He is also a Reel Award Winner for Best African Language, has a KORA award for Best African Male Artiste & Life Time Achievement, is the Cultural Ambassador — courtesy of the Zimbabwe Tourism Association and Project Concern International, and was accorded with a Life Time Achievement Award by NTM Global Promotions (Canada), to name just a few.