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Tributes to Tapiwa 'Blade' Nzou after his death from malaria

By Dan Wright

A devoted dad who won awards for his work in the community has died aged 41 after contracting malaria.

Tapiwa Nzou, better known as Blade, encouraged young people to become rap singers, dancers and musicians.

The Ashford resident, who lived in Upper Denmark Road, visited Nigeria for his sister's wedding over Christmas but returned with cerebral malaria, which affects the brain.

Tributes have been paid to Tapiwa Nzou, better known as Blade
Tributes have been paid to Tapiwa Nzou, better known as Blade

He was found unconscious at his girlfriend's home on Tuesday, January 23 and died two days later after being rushed to the William Harvey Hospital.

His son, Deon, has now paid a glowing tribute to his dad, who was born in Zimbabwe and had lived in Ashford for more than 20 years.

"If anybody ever had any troubles, he would always put them first," Deon, a former Highworth sixth-form student, said.

Tapiwa died of malaria
Tapiwa died of malaria

"He never really got paid for his community work, but he did just did it as it was what he wanted to do.

"He would always go above and beyond for others and he touched the hearts of many people, not just those in Ashford."

Tapiwa, a father-of-three, set up Blaze Entertainment to help young people get into music, including brothers Bruno and Fennie Mukuze.

'He was always there spreading love and care...' - Deon Nzou

County hall bosses applauded his work in 2009, handing him a Kent County Council black and minority achievement award for his contributions to the town.

Deon, who is studying chemistry at the University of Kent, says he has been blown away by the tributes paid to his dad, who was a keen DJ.

Last month, friends and family gathered in Victoria Park to to remember Tapiwa by letting lanterns off.

At the time of his death, he was working in sales for the Opak packaging company in Kingsnorth.

Deon, 20, added: "I knew people would be paying tribute to him, but the amount of people that have has really surprised me.

"So many people have come out and supported us - and they are all so varied and from different walks of life.

Those attending Tapiwa's funeral have been asked to wear black
Those attending Tapiwa's funeral have been asked to wear black

"He was always there spreading love and care, building and encouraging the youth and people of Ashford through music."

Tapiwa's funeral will be held at the Centrepiece Church in Bank Street next Thursday.

The service starts at 9am and all are welcome. The family has requested black dress.

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