Bulelwa Mkutukana, revered as Zahara, died on Monday, 11 December 2023. She was 35.
Bulelwa ‘Zahara’ Mkutukana dies: What’s the cause of death?
The tragic news of Zahara’s death was first confirmed by Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa, who, in a statement, sent “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,” Kodwa wrote.
While an official cause of death has yet to be formally announced, we reported last week that the Loliwe hitmaker was admitted to hospital for critical care following a second bout of liver failure, despite a vehement denial from her family.
“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 statement read at the time.
Prior to this fatal hospital admission, Zahara had spent time in intensive care in December 2019 for liver disease exacerbated by heavy drinking.
Speaking to City Press at the time, her older sister Nomonde revealed the depth of Zahara’s struggles, stressing the dire warnings from doctors about her drinking habits.
“If she continues drinking, she is going to die”, her sister foreboded at the time.
Zahara is survived by her fiancé, Mpho Xaba.
Bulelwa ‘Zahara’ Mkutukana obituary
Bulelwa Mkutukana, widely known by her stage name Zahara, was a renowned South African singer-songwriter and musician, celebrated for her distinctive voice and emotive music. Born on 9 November 1988, in Phumlani, East London, South Africa, she grew up in a deeply musical environment that nurtured her talents from a young age.
Zahara’s rise to fame began in earnest with the release of her debut album Loliwe in 2011. The album was a commercial success, with the lead single Loliwe becoming a hit in South Africa. Her music, often blending elements of Afro-soul, Afro-pop, and traditional South African rhythms, resonated deeply with audiences, both for its sound and for the storytelling embedded in her lyrics.
Her subsequent albums, including Phendula and Country Girl, further cemented her status as one of South Africa’s leading musical talents. Zahara’s work earned her numerous awards and accolades, including several South African Music Awards (SAMAs), solidifying her place in the South African music industry.
Despite her success, Zahara faced significant personal challenges. She struggled with health issues, including a notable battle with alcohol abuse. These struggles were often public, as Zahara did not shy away from discussing them in the media. Her openness about her battles with alcohol and her journey towards recovery resonated with many.
Zahara’s music often reflected her personal experiences, with themes of resilience, pain, and healing being recurrent in her songs. Her ability to channel her struggles into her art contributed to the depth and authenticity that many fans admired in her music.
Throughout her career, Zahara was not just a musician but also a symbol of hope and resilience for many. Her journey through personal hardships, set against the backdrop of her musical success, painted a picture of a multifaceted individual navigating the complexities of fame, health, and personal well-being.
Zahara died on Monday, 11 December 2023, following complications with liver disease.
Reactions to Zahara’s death
PLEASE NOTE: The third-party content below is shared on our platform for journalistic purposes. Swisher Post, its parent company, partners and affiliates shall not be held liable for any consequence that arises from the journalistic duties performed in sharing this content.
News of Zahara’s death left her fans and peers devastated. Here are some of the social media reactions we picked: