Former manager speaks about Oliver Mtukudzi

Former manager speaks about Oliver Mtukudzi
Published: 26 January 2019 (1386 Views)
Tributes continue to pour in for the national hero, Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi who died on Wednesday aged 66. Many have described the late music icon who contributed immensely to the growth of the music industry not only in Zimbabwe and the African continent but the world over as very humble and affable.

The story of Tuku's career will, however, be incomplete without the mention of Daisy, the woman who stood by the lanky superstar through thick and thin since the time the two met in Kwekwe in the early 90s. This reporter caught up with Nicodemus Manyame, a close friend to Mtukudzi who talked about how Tuku met Daisy, how he discovered the late Sungura great Tongai Moyo and his composing prowess. Manyame and Tuku met in Kwekwe in 1993 when Tuku was living in the mining town and Manyame was a member of the late gospel icon, Brian Sibalo's band.

Manyame and his siblings, Mordecai, Otineil, Evelyn and Vangela were all members of Sibalo's band. Tuku and Manyame's friendship grew stronger over the years and at one time he was appointed manager of the Black Spirits band and later became the chairperson of Pakare Paye Arts Centre, a position he still holds.

"I remember vividly when I bumped into Tuku in 1993 in Kwekwe. I was at the time working with Brian Sibalo and I spoke to him about how he could assist us in improving our music. He told me that he was more than willing to assist and after that I frequently visited him at his house in Glenwood. Tuku used to travel from Kwekwe to the capital for shows and most of the time we travelled together," said Manyame.

He said Tuku had a studio in his house and he used to go there to learn as he produced his music.

"He was so humble and down to earth and willing to assist. He never regarded himself as a superstar, he was so approachable," said Manyame. He said Daisy was working in a shop when she met Tuku.

"Daisy Mushonga went to Globe and Phoenix Secondary School in Kwekwe. She was working in a shop at Old Mbizo Shopping Centre when she met Tuku. I remember when Tuku wrote the song "Svovi yangu" for Daisy, she would visit us while we were working on the song but she never knew about it. We kept it a secret until it was released. This was when I witnessed his composing prowess because it did not take a week to be written but it went on to be a hit. He went on to record many songs based on reality like "Ndafunga Dande" which he wrote after spending almost two months on a European tour," he said.

Tuku was a social commentator who wrote songs that reflected on the society, most of them based on topical issues affecting the people. He will be remembered for tackling social ills like child marriages, domestic violence among other issues. Tuku also had a penchant for developing young artists and always had dreams of building an arts centre even before he moved to Norton where he eventually realised his dream.

He started training artistes even before the construction of Pakare Paye Arts Centre and one of the first beneficiaries of the training was the late Tongai Moyo.

"During one of our outings, we went to Batanayi Tavern in Amaveni but I cannot remember the year but it must be 1994 or earlier. Tongai Moyo was playing with his Utakataka outfit at the bar. Tuku fell in love with the beat which he said reminded him of Leonard Dembo. He talked to Tongai and funded the production of Tongai's first album which was recorded at ZBC studios in Harare and the rest is history," said Manyame.

Tuku also discovered Pengaudzoke band while they were using home-made guitars and plastic drums and assisted them to record their first album. Daiton Somanje was on record saying he first played an electric guitar he was given by Tuku while the late Dhewa, who scooped many accolades used to praise Tuku for assisting him. Tuku relocated from Kwekwe to Norton after getting a spacious stand in Norton where he went on to build his first house and eventually Pakare Paye Arts Centre.

"I asked him why Norton and why not Harare and he told me that he preferred a quiet environment. He also said he wanted space to build his arts centre and it was a bit difficult to get such land in Harare. His idea was that he did not want the young artists to pay for their education at the centre," said Manyame. Tuku was long suffering but there were two things that devastated him in his life, the way he parted ways with his long-time manager, Derby Metcalfe and the death of his son Sam Mtukudzi.

"Derby was sort of a family to him, and when they fell out, it affected him greatly. That is when I came in and managed the band together with Sam Mataure. I then moved to become Sam's (Tuku's son) manager until the time of his death.

"But I would like to believe that Sam's death had the biggest impact on his life. It really devastated him. Soon after Sam and Tuku's Nzou Nemhuru Mudanga show in 2010, Sam died. Tuku and Sam were supposed to embark on a nationwide tour with Sam playing at Tuku's old venues. The concept was called Perekedza Mwana but it was never to be as Sam died before the tour," he said. Manyame vowed to keep Pakare Paye up and running. "In honour of the great icon, we vow to continue from where he left. He had a passion of developing and nurturing rising artists and we will continue with his vision.

- Chronicle

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