Zahara | Photo by Henk Badenhorst/Getty Images for MTV Base

South African Music Icon Zahara Dies at 36

South African singer-songwriter Zahara passed away at the age of 36 in Johannesburg on Monday, 11th December as per The New York Times. Zahara, who was known for albums such as Country Girl and Mgodi, was hospitalised last month due to physical pain. She was suffering from liver damage and faced a long battle with alcoholism. However, the cause of death is yet to be revealed.

South Africa’s sports, arts, and culture minister, Zizi Kodwa, announced Zahara’s death in a public statement. “My deepest condolences to the Mkutukana family and the South African music industry.” Kodwa said. “Government has been with the family for some time now. Zahara and her guitar made an incredible and lasting impact in South African music.”

BBC listed Zahara as one of the 100 most influential women in the world in 2020

Zahara’s sister, Nomonde, had previously disclosed the severity of Zahara’s health condition, stating that doctors warned that “if [Zahara] continues drinking, she is going to die.” Efforts were made to monitor and support the musician, emphasising the challenges she faced due to alcoholism.

Zahara – real name Bulelwa Mkutukana – had been a sensation in her native South Africa over the last dozen years. She made history with her debut album, 2011’s Loliwe, the title of which translates into English as “The Train.” The album achieved double platinum accreditation and ranks as the second-fastest-selling album in South Africa after Brenda Fassie’s 1997 record, Memeza.

Zahara performed for the late Nelson Mandela in 2013, just months before his death. She also earned a spot on the BBC’s list of list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world in 2020. Zahara collected 17 South African Music Awards in the course of her career.

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