Oliver Mtukudzi has been honoured in the USA for his commitment to Aids prevention. Tuku was earlier denied a visa to perform in the US but managed to travel on a different travel permit.
The superstar was invited to attend the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), which took place in Seattle, Washington, USA, last week. Tuku was accorded special recognition for his “inspiration and enduring commitment to ending Aids
In an acceptance speech, Mtukudzi, whose music has served as the backdrop for over 25 Aids documentaries across the world, thanked CROI for the award and dedicated the gong to all the “unsung heroes in Zimbabwe (nurses, doctors and HIV/Aids researchers and organisations and many others) who have and are still working hard in the fight to help end
“Well, from my point of view, the role of art is the same as the role of the artiste, which is to highlight the human condition and the issues that affect society. Art is a powerful communication tool, which allows people to positively engage in dialogue.
In this way art speaks to people’s conscience, which influences their attitudes and behaviour while giving life and hope to their aspirations,” explained Dr Mtukudzi. He added: “My music calling has allowed me to touch a vast number of people in many different ways. I focus on social messages whose themes include respect, restraint, tolerance, self-discipline, and peace throughout the world.
“As an artiste the lack of knowledge and awareness of Aids and associated stigma grabbed my mind and I felt that we could make a difference by addressing this through my music.
“This award is a symbol that the purpose of my art is being realised. I admit that a lot of ground has been covered in Zimbabwe and globally in the fight against Aids but we still need to make a lot of effort before it is eradicated.”