South African Music Icon, Zahara, Passes Away At 36

The cultural minister of South Africa has announced the death of Afro-pop artist Zahara, 36, who was hospitalized for liver issues after years of alcohol abuse. According to SABC News, the celebrated singer, whose real name was Bulelwa Mkutukana, passed away at a Johannesburg hospital Friday night.

With the release of her Grammy-winning album Loliwe in 2011, Zahara gained international attention. In 2020, she was included in the BBC’s 100 Women list, which honors the world’s most powerful and inspirational women.

The Afro-pop singer, whose soulful songs helped her sell several platinum records in South Africa, was sent to the hospital last month due to liver issues stemming from her battle with alcohol addiction. Sadly, she lost the battle and passed away on Monday.

When announcing Zahara’s passing, South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture, Zizi Kodwa, stated that the government had been “assisting” her family for “some time now.”

Zahara’s manager, Oyama Dyosiba, verified that the singer was admitted to the hospital last month “following complaints about physical pains.” Born into a low-income family in a hamlet close to East London, South Africa, Zahara had battled alcoholism for years before developing liver disease.

Zahara’s record label, Warner Music Africa, also expressed that it was’mourning’ her passing. Zahara learned how to play the guitar on her own and won album of the year at the South African Music Awards for her maiden album, Loliwe, which sold out in less than a day.

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