Zahara and AKA

Late musicians Zahara and AKA. Images via Instagram @ZaharaSA, @akaworldwide

2011-2023: What Zahara and AKA had in common

Paying tribute to two fallen South African Music legends, Bulelwa ‘Zahara’ Mkutukana and Kiernan ‘AKA’ Forbes.

Zahara and AKA

Late musicians Zahara and AKA. Images via Instagram @ZaharaSA, @akaworldwide

The year is 2011 and South Africans are dancing and singing along to music by a 24-year-old Eastern Cape-born singer and a 23-year-old Johannesburg-born rapper. These two artist would go on to become household names in their own right and win multiple awards for their chart-topping music.


The 11th Metro FM music awards in 2011 saw Bulelwa “Zahara” Mkutukana going pound for pound with rap superstar AKA – real name Kiernan Jarryd Forbes.

The hotly-contested awards ceremony resulted in the two stars walking away with three gongs each. Zahara scooped the Best Female Album, Hit Single of the Year for Le Ngoma featuring DJ Sbu, and Song of the Year for Loliwe.

On the other hand, AKA won best Newcomer, Best Hip-hop Album and Best-produced Album for his debut project Altar Ego.

ALSO READ: ‘Drama’ between Zahara’s family and her fiancé Mpho Xaba

2012: SAMAS

A year later and the pair were again the stars of yet another awards event – the South African Music Awards (Samas). This time, however, Zahara dominated with a staggering eight awards to AKA’s two trophies.

Zahara won in the Best Smooth Urban Music Album, Special Award: Best Selling Album and Album of the Year categories. She was also named Newcomer of the Year, Female Artist of the Year and scooped up the Best Collaboration award for Incwad’ Encane featuring Georgy.

ALSO READ: RIP Zahara: DJ Sbu and TK Nciza dragged into singer’s passing

AKA also shone on the night as he won Best Street Urban Music Album Award for Alter Ego as well as Best Male Artist of the Year; becoming the second hip-hop act to do so since the late HHP (Hip-Hop Pantsula).

In his 2023 song titled Last Time – which is found on his posthumous album, Mass Country – AKA makes mention of these iconic moments.

“Sacrificed my reputation, drew lines in the sand
So the next generation don’t have to bow their head
Went head to head with Zahara,” he raps in the song.

ALSO READ: Family member suspects Zahara was bewitched


Eleven years later, in 2023, both AKA and Zahara bow out of the music industry and the world.

AKA, also known as the Supa Mega, was brutally shot and killed outside a Durban restaurant on 10 February – the case is still under investigation.

Ten months later, Zahara lost her battle to an undisclosed illness on 11 December at a private hospital in Johannesburg.

ALSO READ: ‘Shaka Ilembe’ actress Khabonina apologises for Zahara post

Her family said in a statement on Tuesday that it would like for the musician to be remembered for healing the nation through her inspirational music.

“A life so beautifully lived deserves to be beautifully remembered. May we remember Zahara not with sorrow, but with the healing, joy, kindness, and inspiration she brought to us through her life and her music.

“May she rest in eternal peace, and may her melodies continue to echo in our heats forever,” reads the statement in part.