Tributes pour in for music icon Zahara, dead at 35

Zahara. Picture: File.

Zahara. Picture: File.

Published Dec 12, 2023


South Africans woke up to sad news on Tuesday morning, December 12, following the passing of a talented musician, Bulelwa Mkutukana, better known by her stage name Zahara.

According to reports, Zahara passed away at a Johannesburg hospital on December 11. She was 35.

Her family released a statement, which read: “It is with a heavy heart and the deepest sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved daughter, sister, and friend, Zahara.

“Surrounded by family and loved ones, Zahara departed this world on Monday, December 11. She was a pure light and and even purer heart in this world. A beacon of hope, a gift and a blessing to us and countless people around the world.”

The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa, added: “I am very saddened by the passing of @ZaharaSA. My deepest condolences to the Mkutukana family and the South African music industry.

“Government has been with the family for some time now. Zahara and her guitar made an incredible and lasting impact in South African music.”

Zahara’s colleagues in the music industry have taken to social media to share their condolences to her family, friends, and fans.

“Zahara did a lot for the music industry in South Africa…paved the way for so many others with her icon presence and guitar in hand💔💔she will be missed.

“I never knew her personally, but her music was loud and brave #ripzahara praying for her family 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 she was loved,” wrote Lady Zamar.

Zahara. Picture: file.

Her fans also shared how she managed to heal them through music.

“I will never forget how her song ‘Umthwalo’ kept me going during a very difficult period in my life. I’m heartbroken by her passing #RIPZahara,” wrote @AndiswaMadikazi.

Another X user, @BeynonSammy, said: “Your music kept me going during some of my darkest days (still does), and I know that many others can relate. Your music was (still is) healing, meaningful, timeless and wholesome.

“Thank you. Lala ngoxolo ntombi endala . You will be missed but never forgotten. We ❤️you.”

Zahara rose to fame in 2011 when she released her debut studio album, “Loliwe”.

It was the most-played album at the time, and went platinum 13 days after its release and was certified double platinum just after 17 days.

I was in Grade 12 at the time, and I remember how every house would blast her music so loud you would hear multiple songs playing at once.

With that album, Zahara won eight awards, including Best Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year at the 18th South African Music Awards.

In 2013, she released her second album, “Phendula”, which topped the charts and won her two awards the 20th Samas. She won Best Selling Album of the Year and Female Artist of the Year.

Her third album, “Country Girl”, which was released under a new recording label, Warner Music Group, after she parted ways with TS Records, went triple platinum.

Zahara was known as that girl with an afro hair who sang so gracefully, healing broken ones with her soulful music with a guitar in her hand. She even made a song about that and named it “My Guitar”.

Below are more tributes for the musician.

— Blomzit Avenue (@Blomzit_Avenue) December 11, 2023