HARARE – Internationally-acclaimed musician Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi has been forced to cancel his United States of America tour, after being denied a visa at the US Embassy in Harare as his shows coincide with a summit of musicians from Sudan, Somalia, and Libya — countries whose citizens have been barred from visiting the US by President Donald Trump.
Successive US presidents, namely George W Bush and most recently Barrack Obama and now Trump have always treated Zimbabwe as a rogue state with no democracy while accusing President Robert Mugabe of running his government autocratically. They also accused Mugabe of cheating his way into State House.
Bush in particular placed Zimbabwe among rogue states like Iran and refused to recognise Mugabe as president of the country, saying all the elections held since 2000 were flawed.
While Tuku’s manager, Sam Mataure, said he was unaware why his boss had been denied a visa, US Embassy sources told the Daily News that Tuku’s show was going to coincide with a planned show by musicians from Somalia, Sudan and Libya — three of the countries affected by Trump’s ban which he issued through an executive order.
The American tour by Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally-recognised cultural ambassador has been cancelled or rescheduled because of the visa issue.
Tuku has been to the US several times before and the denial of his visa has surprised many.
Despite having huge support, the musician, businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and Unicef goodwill ambassador for southern Africa, failed to qualify for the P-1 class visa, traditionally given to acts who can prove they have been “internationally recognised” for a “sustained and substantial” amount of time.
The US Embassy in Harare declined to comment on the matter.
“Officially we do not comment on individual visa cases, it’s illegal,” embassy spokesperson David McGuire said.
Tuku said in a Facebook post yesterday: “Tuku Music and Sadza.com regrettably inform you that the . . . Mtukudzi shows scheduled for Friday 10 and Saturday 11 February 2017 in Seattle and Ontario, respectively, have been postponed to May 2017.
“There has been a delay in the issuance of visas to the artistes due to the new travel restrictions in the US.”
This comes as the US Justice Department was facing off with opponents in a federal appeals court yesterday over the fate of Trump’s temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, his most controversial act since taking office last month.
Tuku said: “The new dates will be posted in the next few weeks.”
Mataure told the Daily News that they are re-applying for the visa.
“We have postponed the dates so that we can have adequate time to re-apply for another visa. We are going there with a full band,” he said.
The weekend concerts were not Mtukudzi’s first acts in the US. He has performed there several times.
Last year, Tuku launched his latest album Ehe! Kani Nhai Yahwe, adding to his more than 60 albums since he started his artistic journey around 1977.
A father of five children and two grandchildren, he has been conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Ethno-Musicology and Choreography by the Great Zimbabwe University.