HARARE – Signifying his totem ‘Samanyanga’ (Elephant), Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi’s music has become a giant like the elephant itself with his music and character reaching across to many people.
In his own words, the man (Oliver Mtukudzi) says he has no competition and nothing else can compare to his music.
At 61, Tuku is more than twofold my age, but from the time I could make sense of music, I fell in love with Mtukudzi’s music. My parents had long enjoyed Tuku’s music and naturally when I was growing up his records (LPs) were part of our furniture.
While I can not recall much of the LPs era, I remember personally owning a cassette and CD of Tuku.
Be that as it may, the generation gap between my parents and me, in terms of Tuku’s music is the only difference to talk of. My parents have enjoyed Tuku’s music their whole life and so have I, and this shows how Mtukudzi’s influence has been in many families.
I happened to be one of the guests last month at Tuku’s tribute dinner and what an honour it also turned out to be for me.
It is not always that you are at a place where Tuku and all his friends are gathered. But here I was in the midst of Tuku’s musician friends from the region and locally.
Tuku had a grand arrival as he was ushered into a dining-room with 450 guests from police and army chiefs to politicians.
He received an overwhelming applause from the crowd who had patiently waited for his arrival.
Dressed in a white suit and signature fedora hat, wife daisy on his side, Tuku’s ambiance filled the room compelling people to give him a standing ovation for just the man he is.
However, for a big night and a big man like Tuku, you would have expected the conservative Zimbabweans to get out of their shells and go all out to dress for the occasion.
Taking the words of speakers at the tribute dinner, Tuku has made great impact in music, theatre and arts, and so the expectations were high; lovely hairstyles, stunning evening frocks, weird and creative attires — but it was all a disappointment.
Maybe they didn’t want to outdo the music of ‘tateguru’ or “granddad”.
A few of the guests were outstanding but everyone else decided to go subtle for the night, in smart casual and evening wear.
No exaggerated accessories, no weird shoes, no attention-grabbing and eyebrow-raising attires, just simple and smart.
Nevertheless, as a show of the wide audience appeal of Tuku’s music, the room was filled with people from different races.
Tuku, a well-known music guru with more than 60 albums to his name, has been honoured in many ways, being chosen as goodwill ambassador for United nations children’s Fund (Unicef), his tribute dinner was just a cherry on top.
Everyone had something nice to say about the 61-year-old man who had moved from nothing to something, with his music transcending across generations.
From political figures, artists, promoters, journalists, business people friends, family everyone wanted to be part of the celebrated legend’s night.
Service chiefs who were present came with their partners, the Chihuris, minister Webster Shamu and his wife, Air force commander Perence Shiri, were seen enjoying themselves among the crowd.
Some of the artistes who could not miss sharing a table with Tuku were, Hugh Masekela, Steve Dyer, Amara Brown, Alick Macheso, Steve Makoni, Stella Chiweshe, Tehn Diamond, Suluman Chimbetu, Jah Prayzah, Judith Sephuma and many more.