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Zimbabwe music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi has
moved to quash rumours that he is HIV-positive
following several false stories that he had died last
year.
Arguably the country’s most successful musician,
Mtukudzi has in the past revealed that he is diabetic.
His often sickly look has spawned persistent rumours
that he has HIV and in December some online blogs
even reported that he had died.
But the 60-year-old music maestro told CNN’s African
Voices programme at the weekend that although he
had many relatives who had succumbed to Aids, he
was not HIV-positive himself.
“I am not HIV-positive myself but I have dealt with
HIV and Aids programmes, a lot of them,” he said.
He disclosed that his brother Robert and four of his
band members had died of Aids in quick succession
in the 1980s.
“My brother Robert died of Aids…so I had all the
reason to try and help and give awareness to the
people and fight the stigma,” Mtukudzi said. “I am
glad the stigma in Zimbabwe has fallen away, not
completely though.
“People now talk about it, they don’t hide it.”
Zimbabwe has 1.2 million people living with HIV but
the prevalence rate has been falling significantly in
the past few years.
Death watch
Mtukudzi has also worked with the World Health
Organisation (WHO) since the 1980s to spread HIV/
Aids awareness.
“I am one of the very first artists in Zimbabwe to be
approached about HIV by the World Health
Organisation, that was 1987,” he told CNN. “Nobody
knew about the disease in Zimbabwe and I was lucky
to get the material about the disease.
“I had to learn and come up with a song which made
me go to Swaziland where I actually saw people
infected and affected, so I had a better
understanding of the disease than my fellow artists
because they hadn’t seen it and I had seen that.”
The musician went on to pen several hits that
address HIV and Aids-related issues.
Last year he was appointed UNICEF Goodwill
Ambassador to raise HIV and Aids awareness in
Eastern and Southern Africa.
In 2009, Mtukudzi’s manager Sam Mataure said the
persistent death rumours were affecting the
musician’s family.
“These rumours are sadly not new but their effect
remains the same,” he said then. “No-one wants to
hear of themselves as dead.
“Those peddling these false rumours should really
consider their effect on Mtukudzi’s family, his friends
and his fans.
“You have so much opinion about Tuku out there you
would think Zimbabwe is full of medical doctors.”

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