AFRO jazz exponent, Oliver Mtukudzi, has cancelled his performance at the Lesotho Tourism Festival (LETOFE) due to an “unforeseen family issue”.
According to LETOFE representative, Montoeli Moleli, the Zimbabwean muso would now be replaced by South African Jazz legend Vusi Mahlasela in the fete slated for 26 December 2015 at Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village.
Moleli said Mtukudzi relayed the message last week that he could no longer make it to the festival due to “unavoidable circumstances”.
“We received the sad news this past week in which Oliver said he was held up by serious family matters which would not allow him to be in Lesotho at the time of the festival,” he said.
“Mtukudzi said when he signed the contract, he was not aware of the challenge he now faces, and he sent sincere apologies to both LETOFE and his fans in Lesotho who were looking forward to his performance.”
The cancellation, Moleli said, was a blow for LETOFE organisers since they had already invested in designing and printing the promotional material that includes Mtukudzi.
“There is nothing we can do about it and we understand that family comes first. The promotional material is already circulating and people are expecting him to come,” he said.
“If only he had informed us before we started to publicise the festival. We have worked with Oliver before when he performed twice at LETOFE in previous editions, and we believe his problem is genuine. He has promised to make amends by coming next year.”
Moleli said they were fortunate to find a replacement of the same calibre as Mtukudzi on short notice in Mahlasela.
“We looked for someone who could match Mtukudzi’s standard and were lucky to find Vusi Mahlasela,” he said.
“It is not easy to get a good artist this late ahead of the festive season. So we consider ourselves lucky to land him, and the added bonus will be that it would be his debut appearance in Lesotho.”
Contacted for comment from his Johannesburg base, Mtukudzi’s agent Kevin Stuart said the cancellation was unavoidable.
“Oliver has complicated family issues that he needs to attend to, and unfortunately he will still be committed to the problem by the time of the festival,” he said.
“I cannot get into the details of what the problem is, but what I can say is we apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. With regards to the contract, we have resolved everything with the organisers.”
Asked whether Mtukudzi would come to next year’s edition, Stuart said: “We would love for Oliver to come next year to make up for disappointing fans in Lesotho, but then, it is too early to make commitments and the decision also lies with the LETOFE organisers.”
Other artists billed to perform at the 11th edition of the festival include Andy Narell and Portia Monique from the United States, South Africa’s Zonke, Bonolo, Athari and Riky Rick. The local contingent will include Tšepo Tšola, Maleh as well as the up-and-coming JC Crew.