Celebrated South African musician Zahara, born Bulelwa Mkutukana, breathed her last at the age of 35 in a private hospital in Johannesburg on Monday night.
The Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture, Zizi Kodwa, expressed deep sorrow on social media, confirming the untimely demise of the multi-award-winning artist.
“I am very saddened by the passing of Zahara. My deepest condolences to the Mkutukana family and the South African music industry. The government has been with the family for some time now. Zahara and her guitar made an incredible and lasting impact in South African music, ” he wrote on X.
Zahara’s passing has sent shockwaves through the South African music community, leaving fans and fellow artists mourning the loss of a talented and influential figure.
Known for her chart-topping albums, from the double-platinum debut “Loliwe” (2011) to the recent “Nqaba Yam” (2021), Zahara’s musical journey earned her widespread acclaim, with a remarkable collection of 17 South African Music Awards, three Metro FM Awards, and one Nigeria Entertainment Award.
The news follows a week of health struggles for Zahara, who had been admitted to the hospital shortly after celebrating her birthday on November 9.
Her fiancé, Mpho Xaba, had recently paid lobola (bride price), marking a significant moment in their relationship.
Despite efforts to maintain confidentiality surrounding Zahara’s health, misinformation circulated on the internet, prompting the family to release a statement clarifying the situation.
The family emphasised that accurate updates would only be communicated through Zahara’s official social media platforms.
“Unfortunately, even though our daughter’s hospitalization 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 family said.
Zahara’s influence extended beyond the borders of South Africa, earning her a spot on the BBC’s 2020 list of 100 Women.
The 35-year-old released five studio albums, with her 2011 debut album Loliwe going double platinum. Over the last 12 years, she became one of the country’s most recognised musicians for her unique style.
Her global recognition was further solidified when she served as a guest judge on the seventeenth season of Idols South Africa in 2021.
The sudden demise of Zahara has prompted an outpouring of tributes from fans, fellow musicians, and industry colleagues.
Her contributions to the South African music industry are hailed as enduring, and her legacy is expected to leave an indelible mark.