Mutabaruka solemnly recited a tribute poem to Dube to a packed and appreciate house in Cape Town on Sunday. He paid homage to Dube's music, which he said sought to liberate the oppressed.
He said he was hurt to hear that Dube had been murdered as he was "loved from South Africa to the United States and Jamaica".
He was part of a heavyweight contingent of poets from across the continent who chanted fire and brimstone to mark the beginning of the 14th Poetry Africa Festival.
The poets included South Africans Lebo Mashile, Pitika Ntuli, Gcina Mhlope, Zimbabwean Comrade Fatso, Tanzanian Mama C and Malawian Frank Chipasula. Guest poets from the Mother City were Mbali Kgosidintsi, Madyosini, Malika Ndlovu and James Matthews.
Mhlope aroused emotions when she recited a touchy poem on child abuse. Before reciting it she said: "I'm a patriot but there is something stinking in this country. Child abuse."
Ntuli, who was both MC and performer, entertained the audience with his witty and spontaneous poems while introducing his colleagues.
He told Sowetan: "Poetry is a vehicle for selling expression. It offers an opportunity to interact with a variety of poets worldwide, to compare notes and to speak truth to power!"
This week, the poets will travel to Malawi and Zimbabwe before descending on Durban for the main festival between October 4 and 9.