South African singer Zahara, whose real name was Bulelwa Mkutukana, died on Monday evening in Johannesburg. The Afropop singer was 36 years old.
She became famous in 2011 with the album Loliwe, which is still very popular throughout the African continent. Her fifth and final album Nqaba Yam from 2021 also topped the iTunes charts upon its release. Zahara herself made the list of 100 women compiled by the BBC a year earlier.
The work of the singer and composer Zahara was based on traditional motifs of African culture. In addition to English, she also often sang in Xhoština, a traditional language in the south of the Republic of South Africa. The presumed cause of death is liver problems. In 2019, Zahara spoke about her struggle with alcohol addiction.
“Zahara and her guitar have had an incredible and lasting impact on South African music,” South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa wrote on social network X.
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. pic.twitter.com/1a402aQfLs
— Minister of Sports, Arts & Culture (@zizikodwa) December 11, 2023