Fare thee well Tuku


PANGU pese ndasakura ndazunza, inga wani ndasakura ndazunza ….Ndima yese ndasakura ndazunza ini …Zvasariremi kufuga nekuwarira…,” go some of the lyrics off the hit track ‘Ndima Ndapedza’ by the late Dr Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi.

The song rings a familiar sound to those who frequented the great Tuku shows.

It was his signature tune, a signal to indicate that he was wrapping up a show.

But on January 23 2019, on a rainy Wednesday, the song assumed a new meaning that will forever change the country’s music landscape.

Tuku, the legend, wrapped up his show on earth. But although he is gone to the yonder world, his spirit lives on through his music. 

The legend used music to heal, reprimand, guide, advise, celebrate and foretell of things to come.

His was more than music but art that marked the pinnacle of socio-cultural development.

His message is for all time and will not die.

His death might have come unexpectedly and was a huge blow but the multitude of people who gathered to bid him farewell are a reminder that Tuku’s legacy will not die.

He did not bury his talent.

His talent nourished many souls that would have been malnourished were it not for his works.

It was a journey that began in 1975.

Tuku was for the people, a musician of the people.

He keenly felt the plight of his fellow blackmen under the Ian Smith regime and penned subtle but motivational songs supporting the liberation struggle. 

His songs served as the oil greasing the cogs of the struggle. 

 “Mhandu yakanga yatambarara, ikaisa muswe nekokoko, ndokukanganwa kwayakabva, ikafumura zvinoera, munyika yedu yeZimbabwe…,” he sang.

In his own right, he was a freedom fighter.

In a speech read on his behalf by Minister of Defence Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri, at Tuku’s burial in Madziwa, President Mnangagwa acknowledged the contribution of Tuku’s music in upholding our culture and the values of hunhu/ ubuntu.

“His classy and timeless music, comprising 66 albums, which epitomised our identity, culture and the values of hunhu/ubuntu, shall remain a shining beacon forever to both present and future generations.

“During the pre-independence period, the late Dr Mtukudzi was outspoken and criticised white minority oppression through his music.

“He continued the socio-musical commentary thread throughout the post-independence phase. Through song, he had the boldness to question, ‘What is a hero?’ The nation and the world today answer his question. We loudly say; ‘Dr Oliver Mtukudzi is a hero!’ That is a hero!,” said President Mnangagwa.

His music was diverse, tackling various societal issues as well as different situations. 

Tracks like ‘Ndipeiwo zano’, produced in 1978, remain relevant.

“Ndatadza kushiringinya ndiri pamakumbo amai… ndoita ripi zano… chandakatadza chiiko nhai Mwari wangu…ndingaite ripi zano ndiwane rugare nhai varume,” goes the song. 

Wherever he went, Tuku stood out, a true son of the soil and ambassador of his country.

In the 1990s, his popularity transcended the country’s borders.

A man on a mission, Tuku began to explore the world through his music which he unapologetically delivered in his mother tongue. 

He became the darling of the world, the West included, not because he sold out but because he was a true embodiment of Africa.

Albums that include Neria Soundtrack (1992), Son of Africa (1993), Svovi yangu (1996), Dzangu Dziye (1998) and Tuku Music (1999) became popular at home and abroad.

Like a hawk, he spotted the potential and advantages of making friends with fellow international artistes. 

He was part of the famous Mahube, a group made up of famous regional musicians.

In the album Abi’angu (2011) , Tuku did duets with South African jazz and Afro-pop singer Judith Sephuma on the track ‘Kupedza Nguva’, performed with Ringo Madlingozi and Eric Wainana  from Kenya as well as ‘Dzokera’ with Zambian Jordan Katembula, among others.

In West Africa, he performed with Nigerian guitarist Kunle Ayo in the song ‘IIe’, 

Tuku was unique in that he appreciated efforts of young and upcoming artistes, he was ever ready to assist them.

He never looked down on fellow musicians; instead he collaborated with everyone regardless of genre. 

He collaborated with Enock Munhenga (EX Q) in the urban grooves genre, Sulumani Chimbetu of dendera music, Mathias Mhere and Fungisayi Zvakavapano-Mashavave from the gospel music fraternity, Winky Dee representing the Zim-dancehall genre, Jah Prayzah and many more.

Through his establishment of Pakare Paye Arts, the late Mtukudzi became a mentor of many artistes, among them the young Gary Tight. 

Tuku was the epitome of hard work.

His 66 albums at 66 years old are proof of that.

Dr Oliver Mtukudzi, affectionately known as Tuku, died on January 23 2019 after battling diabetes and was laid to rest in his rural home in Madziwa.


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