At the age of 35, Zahara, a musician and songwriter from South Africa who has sold millions of platinum records, has passed away.

The South African pop singer Zahara, whose soaring voice and strident ballads earned her multiple platinum-selling albums in her home country, has died aged 35.

South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa, confirmed her passing and expressed his sympathy, stating: “I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the Mkutukana family and the music industry of South Africa. The government has been supporting the family for a while now. Zahara and her guitar have left a remarkable and enduring mark on South African music.”

In the previous month, Oyama Dyosiba, her manager, verified that she had been admitted to the hospital due to experiencing physical discomfort.

Dyosiba confirmed in 2019 that she had liver disease due to struggles with alcoholism. According to her sister Nomonde, doctors had warned that if she continued drinking, she would not survive. Nomonde also stated that they are taking measures to ensure that someone is always with Zahara to prevent her from relapsing into alcohol consumption.

In 1987, a woman named Bulelwa Mkutukana was born. She taught herself how to play guitar and gained recognition in 2011 with her first album, Loliwe. This album was a success both commercially and at the South African Music Awards, where it won album of the year.

In 2013, she sang the main song for Nelson Mandela at his residence before he passed away. She also composed a tribute song with the words: “Hero of heroes / There’s no one else like him.” This song, along with her other songs, was a mix of Xhosa and English.

Her sophomore album, Phendula, debuted with a feature from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, while her next release, Country Girl, which incorporated country music, achieved triple platinum status. For her fourth album, Mgodi, she joined forces with Warner Music after a disagreement with her former label, TS Records.

In 2020, she referred to violence against women as a “pandemic” in South Africa and actively worked to combat it. She revealed that she had personally experienced an assault from a man who used pepper spray on her while she was in his car.

She stated to the BBC that men believe they have a right to possess women, as if women are their property. According to her, men in South Africa prioritize their own needs above all else.


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