By Lance Guma
Zimbabwean music legend Oliver Mtukudzi has once again dismissed unending speculation over his health telling Cable News Network (CNN) interviewer Nkepile Mabuse “I’m not HIV positive”.
Tuku as he is affectionately known was the featured guest on CNN’s African Voices on Sunday evening and opened up about his personal and music life including the death of his son Sam, in a tragic car accident.
Explaining his passion for fighting the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS Mtukudzi said “Well I’m not HIV positive myself but I have dealt with HIV and AIDS programmes, a lot of them.
“I’m one of the very first artists from Zimbabwe to be approached about HIV by the World Health Organisation that was in 1987. Nobody knew about the disease in Zimbabwe. I was lucky to get the material about the disease.
“So I had to learn and come up with a song which made me go to Switzerland, where I actually saw people infected and affected and so I had a better understanding of the disease than my fellow artists,” he explained.
Mtukudzi said at one time he lost four members of his Black Spirits band within two months including his brother Robert, events which motivated him to join the fight against the stigma around the disease. “I had all the reason to try and help,” he said.
Tuku believes Zimbabwe now understands the disease and the stigma around it has fallen away although not completely.
“Well stigma really, it’s an attitude, they should take HIV just like a headache, just like any other disease because we get affected by attitude. So if the negative attitude falls away by having a friend, talking to each other,” this would help.
Mtukudzi was last year made the UNICEF goodwill ambassador for Eastern and Southern Africa focussing on youth development and HIV and AIDS.
The Internet erupted last month with rumours that Mtukudzi was dead after a short illness. This was after the cancellation of a series of shows. His spokesman Shephard Mutamba however said Tuku is diabetic and from time to time the condition causes severe exhaustion and he requires rest.
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