Isaac Mkukupa mourned


The country on Sunday was dealt a big blow following the death of veteran musician Pastor Isaac Elliot Hakata Mkukupa.

Father to singer Rudo Mkukupa Chakwera, he died in Nottingham, the United Kingdom where he was based.

Rudo said of her father’s death was caused by dementia and Covid related symptoms.


She said her father will be laid to rest in UK.

“My all-time favourite jazz maestro. You made a great woman and a great musician out of me dad,” Rudo wrote on her Facebook page.

As we went to press yesterday dates for burial were not yet known.


Several players in the creative industry have expressed shock at the death of Mkukupa.

Renowned singer and guitarist Erik Paliani described him as the first real contemporary jazz musician and that he maintained it all his life.

“He could play with anyone, inspired me to learn and read music. He was a smart musician who played for The Touch of Class Band. He was an uncle and I used to go to his house, when I was studying with his colleague Don Mlenga and he knew my father,” Paliani said.

He said he was at pains simply because the country has lost an intellectual adding that “if you understand where Malawian jazz is coming from then lower your flags, lower them now”.

Music Manager Peter Makossah, who is based in the UK, said the death of Mkukupa is a big blow to Malawi music.

“He was a great teacher, witty and hugely talented. Few months ago, I and him embarked on a project to reproduce his and his family’s music and make a special edition as a way of keeping the music alive and back in the fold so that the new generation could have an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the great talent,” Makossah said.

He said they were going to remake and digitalise the music to give it a modern feel and touch.

“He was actually working on new songs. His life was all about music. He lived and breathed music and his legacy will remain forever,” Makossah said.

Veteran broadcaster Sam Malunga, popularly known as Mbalame Yakumadzi for his rich information on music, said he knew Mkukupa personally in the early 1970s when he was playing for Truetones Band at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.

“That time the frontline vocalist was late Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma and then there were also other members like Emmanuel Manda. He worked for an advertising company known Graphic linters with the likes of late Vic Kasinja, Felix Chinkonda and Waza Phiri,” Malunga said.

He later formed The Touch of Class Band where he used to perform with late Mlenga and a guitarist from Norway Patrick Devos.

“He also formed Livingwaters Band with Gray Samani where he taught a lot of people the bass including Grant Soko, brother to Willie Soko,” Malunga said.

His brothers Wellington and Nasau were also passionate musicians, who used to star for Love Aquarius and Super Kaso.

Kenya-based gospel musician Chrissie Kamthunzi described him as a great man and that they ministered together in Amazing Grace Singers.

Musician and lecturer Joe Mlenga said Mkukupa used to perform with his uncle Don in a jazz trio known as Mellowtones.

“The group was very good. Isaac is a national hero in terms of music. He was a trailer with very high standards,” Mlenga said.

Mkukupa was born in Zambia. His mother came from Zimbabwe whereas his father was from Salima District.

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