Maxwell Sibanda &
ZIMBABWEAN artists and arts practitioners still have fond memories of legendary music superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mutukudzi whom they described as humble, talented and caring.
And it is two years since his death at the Avenues Clinic in Harare on January 23, 2019.
During his illustrious career, Tuku released countless singles, albums, videos and collaborated with musicians from Zimbabwe and across the globe.
He was also an ambassador for several companies and charities.
Tuku’s daughter Selmor Mtukudzi, who is seen as Tuku’s heir, marked the day with a new video Ngwarai which is a collection of Tuku’s moments on stage, some of which they shared. She has promised to carry on the brand and protect the legacy.
The Daily News caught up with several personalities who shared their experiences with the star, who was also declared a national hero.
Dance choreographer and music lecturer Clayton Ndlovu said he sorely misses the legend. “He was a humble giant who allowed others to sit on his shoulders so that they could be giants too. What I best remember him for is his wisdom and humility. In my opinion that is what made him a superstar.
“I would invite him to the Zimbabwe College of Music to give lectures to students who were always eager and privileged to listen to his wisdom. I was also directing Umoja Cultural Flying Carpet of Zimbabwe and he was our patron. We performed with him countless times in Mozambiquè and Norway. He was always excited to perform with young people whom I was working with at Umoja CFC.
“He wasn’t afraid to have his music being messed up by us. He was full of trust. He ended up taking some of the young talented musicians of Umoja into his band fulltime; the likes of Charles Chipanga, Onai Mutizwa and Vimbai Zimuto.
“I remember that he wanted us to do a musical about his life and this was so important to him. But then tragedy happened. His son Sam passed on. Obviously this project was put on hold because Sam was going to play a younger version of him. After some years, he called me and wanted us to continue working on it. Unfortunately, he passed on without us doing anything tangible. Samanyanga mhuka huru will forever be missed,” said Ndlovu.
Gospel singer Charles Charamba said Tuku was one of the musicians he never expected to meet, having watched him during bioscope programmes in the early 1980s.
“He received us warmly when we entered the musical arena. He allowed Mai Charamba and myself to invade his private space, visiting him both at home and at Pakare Paye. He shared quite some valuable and intimate notes with us and held us in very high esteem. We owed him a reciprocal favour.”
Radio personality Themba Mkanda said he remembers Tuku for his timeless hits and a catalogue you can never get tired of.
“But most importantly was his discipline and how he taught those around him and came into contact with that without discipline you won’t go anywhere in life. His catalogue alone is enough to be played for six months, 24 hours a day, without repeating a song… a clear testimony that he was a man of song totally dedicated to his craft. We will forever miss him.”
PR executive Takemore Mazuruse said what he treasures most about Mtukudzi was his originality and Pan-African approach to music.
“Not only did he carry the national flag with pride but he also managed to shake off the limiting ‘Zimbabwean musician’ tag and was embraced by Africans from all over. It’s not news to hear Tuku’s music being played in Kenya, South Africa, Malawi or even Mali. Such was his depth, reach and influence.
“That he became a global icon is also another feather in his hat. Even when he passed on the likes of BBC carried his story. It is my hope and wish that today’s generation of Zimbabwean musicians embody that originality and carve out an indelible niche of their own. Equally important was his resilience amidst the highs and lows of his career.
“Mtukudzi was not an overnight success but when success came his way he managed to sustain it. He became a recognised brand and to this day Tuku music lives on. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace!” said Mazuruse.
Renowned stone sculptor Dominic Benhura said when Mtukudzi commissioned the library he built at Kambarami School everyone was captivated by his speech, which was not written down.
“I was really humbled by him doing it for me. And he would ask me to pick him up from the airport on his return from a trip. He always called me munini’na and sometimes he would say open the gate when he made surprise visits to my house. I really miss him.”
Music producer Gilbert Muvavavirwa described Tuku as a sonic architect, musical genius, composer and song writer.
“He was a cultural ambassador, humanitarian and philanthropist through his Pakare Paye Project. A rare and gifted human, he is beyond legendary status. He was a national asset, a poet, game changer and leader. Above all so down to earth and humble beyond belief. He is the melody and symphony to our life…..he touched every motion in our lives through song.”
Nightclub manager Yasini Dhala said Tuku was like a father to him. “I remember Tuku as a humble man to everyone who came across him and l respect him for that. A great guy; he was my mentor and thanks to him for showing me the path, may his soul continue to rest in peace.”
Giant sungura musician Alick Macheso is one artist whose relationship with Tuku was more than music.
“Words alone cannot describe the loss. We miss him a lot, he was a goood person. Whenever we encountered a difficult situation he was there to assist and give counsel and his death robbed us a lot.”
Youthful chanter Tocky Vibes, one of the few youngsters to get recognition from Tuku live on radio, together with Soul Jah Love, described Tuku as a patient and humble teacher.
“He was patient and would humble himself to spend time with youths like myself. He would share with us life skills and not only music. He would never try to change you but shape what you brought to the table. He would actually say I’m also learning from you,” he said.
Tocky Vibes last year released a tribute song Mdara Tuku which he said was a special dedication.
“I took my time to release something worth the stature of Tuku. He was not an ordinary person and it had to be something of quality,” he said.
Gospel musician Mathias Mhere said the late superstar knew no genre and would accommodate everyone.
“One thing I liked about him is that he was honest and would not hesitate to reprimand you. It was not all about music when you were with him. He would say I can’t leave you on the wrong path. I for one benefited from him and he even agreed to feature on one of my songs.”
Jah Prayzah is another singer who also had an opportunity to work with the late superstar and he took to Facebook with his message stating that he is still following in his footsteps.