Platinum-Selling Singer Zahara Has Died Aged 35

Zahara Dead: The platinum-selling singer-songwriter has tragically died aged 35.
Credit: @zaharasa/Instagram & Alamy

Platinum-selling singer-songwriter Zahara has tragically died aged 35. 

The South African Afro-pop artist, whose real name was Bulelwa Mkutukana, shot to fame in 2011 with the award-winning album ‘Loliwe’.

She would feature on BBC’s 100 Women list in 2020, which includes the most inspirational and influential women from around the world.

Throughout her career, the ‘Phendula’ singer would win 17 South African music awards, three Metro FM Awards and one Nigeria Entertainment Award.

Zahara’s fans have been left devastated following the announcement of her passing.

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The ‘Impilo’ singer – who once sang for Nelson Mandela – died at a hospital in the city of Johannesburg, according to SABC News.

South Africa’s sports, arts and culture minister Zizi Kodwa, who announced Zahara’s passing, shared that the star was hospitalised with liver problems after years of alcohol abuse.

He added that the government had been ‘assisting’ the artist’s family for ‘some time now’.

Kodwa stated: “I am very saddened by the passing of Zahara. 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.”

Zahara’s manager confirmed that the singer had made ‘complaints of physical pains’, as per MailOnline.

Platinum-selling singer-songwriter Zahara has tragically died aged 35. Credit: @zaharasa/Instagram

Zahara, who was born to a poor family in a village near the South African city of East London, battled alcohol addiction for many years.

Her sister, Nomanda, said in 2019 that doctors told her: “If Zahara continues drinking, she is going to die.

“We are making sure that there is always someone around her to monitor her so that she doesn’t start drinking again.”

Zahara was compared to the late singer Amy Winehouse throughout her career, as they both had striking voices as well as a tragic battle with addiction.

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The singer, who was a self-taught guitarist, sang in a blend of Xhosa and English.

As well as being a successful artist, she was also a vocal campaigner against violence for women – she described it as a ‘pandemic’ in South Africa in 2020.

“[Men] feel like they are entitled to women, like women are theirs,” Zahara told the BBC. “Men in South Africa, all they care about is them.”

Zahara suffered a battle with alcohol addiction. Credit: @zaharasa/Instagram

Hundreds of Zahara’s fans have taken to social media and paid tribute to the singer-songwriter.

One fan writes: “Zahara was going through a lot. Rest In Peace.”

“May you find comfort in the Lord, Zahara,” another adds.

A third person pens: “The same year I went to South Africa the same year Zahara came out. Even though I did not understand her music, her music was a fruit to my soul.”

Somebody else comments: “Heaven has truly gained an angel… Rest in glory legend Zahara.”

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Written by Aimee Walker

Aimee is a senior content editor at IGV who specialises in finding the best original stories, trending topics and entertainment news. She graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Media and Communications.