Just weeks after the respected USA based Forbes Magazine named him as the 12th most powerful celebrity in Africa, out of a list of 40
others; Mtukudzi is receiving from the Republic of Italy the coveted Cavaliere of the Order of Merit.
Tuku becomes the first African musician to receive the award which in Italy is what the Knighthood is to England.
The prestigious Italian honour is one of the highest recognitions by the President of the European country conferred to outstanding
Italian embassy officials in Harare confirmed Mtukudzi’s award banquet taking place next Thursday where the Italian President and government
will be represented by their Ambassador to Zimbabwe Stefano Moscatelli.
“Yes, the Italian government has the pleasure and honour to celebrate the decoration as Cavaliere of the Order of Merit of the Republic of
Italy to Mr Oliver Mtukudzi,” an embassy official told Radio VOP but would not shed more light on the honour.
Tuku’s publicist Shepherd Mutamba said it would only be “courteous and proper” for his office to comment on the honour only after Tuku had
received the award and not before.
Arts and culture administrators in Harare received the news of Tuku’s Italian Cavaliere with pride but were quick to say the honour was also
a slap in the face of the Zimbabwean government for failing to acknowledge Tuku, one way or another, for flying the country’s flag
high – a feat no other artist has achieved.
“If the Zimbabwe government is not ashamed that foreign countries are honouring our own artists and we are not, then that speaks volumes
about the caliber of government leadership in Zimbabwe,” a top arts administer, who asked not to be named, told Radio VOP.
Foreign governments including world bodies, such as the United Nations, have found it fit to honour Tuku in the past and the Zimbabwe
government is yet to, if ever at all.
But for President Robert Mugabe’s government, known for being totally intolerant to critical artistic voices, in a country where the president’s office controls the radio airwaves and bans sharp-tongued
musicians on air, it was not surprising Zimbabwe was yet to accept the likes of Tuku or Thomas Mapfumo at national level.