South African singer Bulelwa Mkutukana, best known by her stage name Zahara, passed away on Monday evening at the age of 36, in Johannesburg, South Africa, due to reported liver complications. Zahara, who held several performances in Rwanda, was adored by many for her music prowess.
Zahara’s passing was confirmed by South Africa’s Minister of Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa, who extended his condolences to her family.
The “Loliwe” hitmaker was admitted to the hospital about two weeks ago with alleged liver complications but it had been reported that her condition was improving. Music lovers across the continent have been rooting for the singer to recover while South Africans rallied to support her but the multi-award winning songstress could not make it.
South African media reported that the hitmaker died at a private hospital with her Fiancé Mpho Xaba by her bedside, just before 9pm, on Monday night. A week ago, the family confirmed that Zahara was hospitalised and called for privacy.
“Unfortunately, even though our daughter’s hospitalisation has been of strict confidentiality within our family and close friends, that hasn’t stopped the spread of disingenuous information on the internet. We want to stress that any reliable information regarding Zahara’s health will be communicated via her official social media platforms or by herself.”
The singer’s family from East London also arrived in Johannesburg to be by the singer’s fiancé’s side. Zahara was admitted to a medical ward but her condition became worse and she was transferred to the ICU section of the private hospital. Last week, the singer’s situation deteriorated and she was reportedly unresponsive.
Zahara last performed in Rwanda on May 31, 2019 at the 4th anniversary of Kigali Jazz Junction (KJJ), a show she had performed on exactly a year before, in May 2018. Both shows were ecstatic and emotional in nature, with the singer often sobbing as she performed and connected with her audience.
On her last performance in 2019, she was recognised with an award for her contribution to music and the show in particular. An emotional Zahara could not hold back her tears as she accepted the accolade.
During her career, Zahara released five hot selling studio albums, from double platinum debut Loliwe (2011) to Nqaba Yam (2021), which peaked at number 1 on iTunes. She won at least 17 Music Awards in her career, at the national and continental level.
She was known for her strong vocals, inspirational lyrics and her penchant for the guitar, which she often said was her favourite musical instrument.