ZAHARA, a luminary in the resplendent tapestry of South African musicians, graced the world with her ethereal melodies, weaving a symphony of hope and solace. With a voice that resonated like a celestial choir, she became a beacon of inspiration, mending the hearts of those burdened by life’s trials. Through the enchanting power of her music, Zahara’s legacy shall forever illuminate the path towards healing and rejuvenation.

By Staff  Reporter

On 9 November 1987, a musical prodigy named Bulelwa Mkutukana, also known as Zahara entered the world like a rare and exquisite flower in a bustling garden.

With her self-taught mastery of the guitar, she soared to fame in 2011 like a brilliant comet with the launch of her debut album, Loliwe. The album rose to the top of the charts like a majestic eagle, captivating not only audiences but also claiming the prestigious Album of the Year award at the South African Music Awards, like a regal crown fit for a queen.

Zahara, a shining star among South African musicians, shared her ethereal melodies with the world, creating a symphony of hope and comfort. Her celestial voice became an inspiration, soothing the hearts of those facing life’s challenges.

Through her enchanting music, Zahara’s legacy will forever light the way to healing and renewal. From the depths of Loliwe to the majestic presence of Nqaba Yam, we are immersed in the splendid artistry of this celebrated Afro-soul singer. With unwavering passion and deep insight, Zahara fearlessly explored important topics that resonate deeply within our collective consciousness.

In the face of poverty’s oppressive shadow, she fearlessly raised her voice, using her music to shine a light on the injustices that have plagued our land. Through soul-stirring melodies and poignant lyrics, she becomes a beacon of hope, igniting a flame of unity and inspiring us all to strive for a better tomorrow. Yet, her artistic journey extended far beyond that.

She also fought tooth and nail against gender-based violence, which she likened to a “plague” in South Africa. She disclosed that, despite her brush with a genuine nasty apple, she is a strong individual. This fella had the brilliant notion to give her a taste of his pepper spray while they were cruising in his wheels.

With unwavering courage, she delved into the depths of mental health battles, fearlessly exposing the raw vulnerability within.

In 2018 and 2019, Zahara took a hiatus to confront her battle with depression. However, she made a triumphant return in 2021 with the release of what became her final album, Nqaba Yam, in August of that year. The project chronicles her journey of overcoming life’s obstacles through unwavering determination, prayer, and the unwavering support of her family. The album beautifully encapsulates the theme of resilience, with the track ‘Nyamezela’ serving as a poignant testament to her endurance.

Nyamezela is a masterpiece that echoes her triumphant journey. The central message: a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human soul, shines brilliantly through the ethereal melodies of this song.

Talking about Nqaba Yami in an interview with Music In Africa, Zahara said: “In English, nqaba yam means ‘endure’. It’s like a pillar or rock that you hold on to when there is turmoil around you. I have been through a lot in the past years. I don’t write to make hits – I write about my life story. I am a poet and I turn all things that happen around me into songs.

“Every song on the album is about me, it’s not about anything else. When I was writing the album, I couldn’t sleep until 5am, because of everything that hurt me and some of the things that were happening around me. My life is a cliché – my ups and downs are out there for you guys. I feel like I did not come for anything else but to inspire and give hope to people. I felt like people had stopped judging me by my music.

“It was like, ‘What kind of cereal does she eat? What kind of drink does she take?’ Besides that, I know we become role models to people, but you must remember we are human beings, too. I felt that I was being mocked for the work I had done. I asked myself, ‘Should I give up or should I continue to inspire my people like I was doing before?’ That’s what was going through my mind.

“I would love everybody – because I have learned through my own mistakes – to find the necessary information in whatever they want to embark on so that they don’t get caught up in certain situations. When I was back on my feet and ready to record Nqaba Yam, COVID-19 happened. I was like, ‘What? This can’t be happening when I’m about to start.’ I went back to square one. I was financially and mentally affected. There is a song on the album called ‘Nyamezela’, which means ‘we are going to keep on keeping on as long as we are alive.’ In life, we tackle things differently, but we suffer in the same way. This album is all about healing and inspiring people.”


Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture: @zizikodwa –

I am very saddened by the passing of @ZaharaSA.

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.

Thandiswa Mazwai: @thandiswamazwai

I really think the department can do better for artists while they are alive. Rest in peace Zahara. Your music touched all of us, all over Africa. Lala ngoxolo ntombazane.

Lady Zamar: @Lady_Zamar

Zahara did a lot for the music industry in South Africa…paved the way for so many others with her icon presence and guitar in hand she will be missed. i never knew her personally but her er music was loud and brave #ripzahara praying for her family she was loved.

Podcast with MacG:@podcastwithmacg

Rest in Power ‘The girl next door’ you’ve indeed inspired us with your amazing music. #RIPZahara #Zahara

Temi Adeniji, managing director at Warner Music Africa, said: ” Our deepest condolences go out to her family, friends, and the entire music community during this difficult time. Zahara was a true music icon, a force whose soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics resonated deeply with fans across South Africa and beyond.

“Her impact on the music industry is immeasurable, and her legacy will forever be etched in the hearts of those who found solace and joy in her music. As we mourn the loss of this extraordinary talent, let us remember Zahara for the indelible mark she left on the world through her artistry and the enduring beauty of her music.”

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