Mtukudzi defied the threats and travelled to Swaziland’s Malkerns Valley where he gave a splendid performance at the festival attended by at least 15 000 fans over the weekend.
Anonymous democracy campaigners had threatened unspecified action against the music legend saying his performance would legitimise the rule of King Mswati III seen as a dictator by the democracy crusaders in the absolute monarchy where opposition political parties are banned.
Mtukudzi’s spokesperson Shepherd Mutamba confirmed the musician received mail sent anonymously and copied to selected regional media.
The letter read: “Don’t come to Swaziland because that will be supporting the dictatorship regime of the Kingdom of Swaziland. We have been calling for sanctions against the regime that doesn’t support human rights. If you do come it’s at your own risk…”
Mutamba said by threatening Mtukudzi the democracy campaigners had failed to understand the context of social change that inspired Mtukudzi to perform in Swaziland.
“Mtukudzi travelled to Swaziland with a very clear conscious and wasn’t deterred whatsoever by the threats,” Mutamba told Radio VOP.
“Oliver’s music is pivotal in processes of social change. Oliver unites people where politicians divide us. His music promotes peace, love, tolerance and human rights and what better place to take the message that unifies people than to Swaziland itself.”
Mtukudzi himself has since released a statement on his website kicking back at the threats: “Those who are threatening my life actually need healing themselves and I will ensure my music heals their anger and help them think properly. That is the purpose of art. Music must be a remedy in times of strife and artists must be given a chance to fulfill that obligation.”
South African based Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) was among those calling for the boycott of all sports, arts and culture events in Swaziland.
Another democracy crusader the Swaziland Democracy Campaigner had also encouraged artists and fans to stay away from the festival but had since changed its mind saying it recognized that the festival actually provided a platform for artists to advocate social change.