OLIVER Mtukudzi has been knighted by the Italian government for services to music, charitable causes and the arts.
The singer, 59, on Thursday received the Cavaliere – Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy – from the Italian embassy in Harare on Thursday.
The Italian ambassador to Zimbabwe Stefano Moscatelli presented the award to Mtukudzi, which consists of a diploma, a medal and a pin of the official Cavaliere logo.
The order is bestowed by decree of the Italian President annually to recognise recipients’ contributions in the fields of literature, the arts, economics, public service, social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities.
Ambassador Moscatelli told the Financial Gazette the award had been made to Mtukudzi for his “long and successful career and the work carried out in Zimbabwe and abroad as an artist and philanthropist”.
“His music carries an important message to society as further proof of his commitment to the people of Zimbabwe,” the ambassador said, also crediting Mtukudzi for building the Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton which is open to talented young musicians chasing a career in music.
The ambassador said Mtukudzi had also made a “significant” contribution over the years “to strengthening the cultural relations between Italy and Zimbabwe specifically with relation to his collaborations with Italian musicians.”
In 2008, Mtukudzi was named Outstanding Musician of all time at the National Arts Merit Awards.
The following year, he was awarded an honorary Master of Science degree in Fine Arts by the Women's University in Africa. The same year, he was also appointed the Cultural Ambassador by Project Concern International.
In June this year, he was appointed the (southern African) Regional Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF "in using his music to highlight issues affecting children in Zimbabwe and the region".
In a career spanning more than three decades, Mtukudzi has recorded 49 albums and featured in several films.