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Zimbabwe, With Music Icon Oliver Mtukudzi, Mourns Highway Death of Son, 21


Percussionist Martha Tendai Badza of Sam Mtukudzi's Ay Band said his death represented a great loss for the Zimbabwean music industry in which many had expected him to carry on the tradition of his father, Oliver

Zimbabwean musical icon Oliver Mtukudzi, his family and countless friends and fans Tuesday were mourning Sam Mtukudzi, 21, his musician son and potentially his successor after his death in a highway crash.

The younger Mutukudzi died in a single-car crash in the Harare suburb of Kuwadzana on the highway from Harare to Norton, home of the Mtukudzi family.

Also killed in the crash was Owen Chimhare, 24, a fellow musician, who had accompanied Sam Mtukudzi to Harare International Airport where Oliver and his wife, Daisy, had failed to arrive as expected.

Officials said the two men died instantly when their pick-up truck veered off the road early Monday as they headed for Norton, hit the rails on a bridge and fell into a dry river bed.

A distraught Mtukudzi told mourners at his home in Norton, northwest of Harare, that he blamed himself for the death of his son, as he had failed to inform him that his travel plans back to Harare had changed.

Sam Mtukudzi and Owen Chimhare were to be buried Wednesday side by side at the Warren Hills Cemetery, Harare, after a church service and a viewing ceremony at Mtukudzi's Pakare Paye Arts Center in Norton.

Friends of the family said Mtukudzi broke into tears on viewing the bodies of the two crash victims. "Tearful and visibly shaken, Mtukudzi touched the still body of his son and could only say a few words: 'I worked with you, I played with you, I loved you - now why do you leave me? Life is unfair … life does not belong to us.'"

Zimbabwean-based musicians flocked to pay homage to Sam and console Mtukudzi and his family.

U.S.-based Chimurenga musician Thomas Mapfumo called to offer Mtukudzi his condolences. So did South Africa's Ringo Madlingozi, Judith Sepuma and Mzwake Mbuli. Politicians across the political spectrum showed up to pay their respects along with business leaders and ordinary Zimbabweans.

Sam Mtukudzi's second album, "Cheziya," was to have been launched on April 1, which would have been his 22nd birthday.

Martha Tendai Badza, a percussionist in his Ay Band, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that Sam's death was represented a great loss for the Zimbabwean music industry in which many had expected him to carry on the tradition of his father, Oliver.

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