The Herald (Harare)

14 September 2012

Zimbabwe: Tuku's Bumpy Road to Stardom

Photo: Facebook
Oliver Mtukudzi Collection cd cover

AS the sun imperceptibly started setting on Rhodesia in the mid-1970s, a spiky-haired youth, tall, pencil slim, and charcoal black from Highfield embarked on a musical journey with nothing else but his talent.

Another African musician who had made a breakthrough, legendary Chimurenga music guru Dr Thomas Mapfumo, donated a song "Mutavara," which the upcoming musician spruced up and changed the tune, making it a hit song.

That is how Oliver Mtukudzi, affectionately known by his legion of fans locally and internationally by the sobriquet Tuku, came on the music scene.

The musical journey has not been smooth. Coming from a conservative African community that treated musicians as uncouth and social misfits, the journey was bumpy, rocky and winding.

What with a Rhodesia, whose colonial mantra was to send young Africans to school as preparation for cheap labour that could easily take instructions?

Today, Mtukudzi, known for his compact compositions, characterised by a shifting tapestry of plunking guitars, hoarse lead vocals that intermittently spiced with sharp pricking backing vocals and a cross rhythm of the African drum has become an icon.

The trademark cough, as he clears his throat, completes his identity.

And now musicians, fans, the corporate world and show promoters have come together to honour Tuku with a special must-attend birthday bash amid pomp and zest.

The spectacle starts as early as 8am on September 21, when Tuku is flown from his home in Norton aboard an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter emblazoned with a banner "Tuku @60".

Accompanied by the organisers Partson Chimbodza, Josh Hozheri, Taka Mashonganyika as well as Watson Chidzomba of Pakare Paye Arts Centre, the chopper will fly past the popular braai spot Mereki from Kuwadzana to Machipisa, Epworth, Chisipite then Borrowdale, Mabelreign, City Centre before landing in the open space

between the Harare Exhibition Park and the Harare Magistrates' Courts.

The magic continues when Tuku joins a convoy of luxury cars among them the latest SUV Range Rovers and Jaguars from Premier Auto and limousines on his way to the Meikles Hotel, where he will join the South African musicians Ringo Madlingozi, Judith Sephuma, Steve Dyer and Dorothy Masuku.

The convoy including police escort and drum majorettes will travel from the Exhibition Park into Samora Machel Avenue into Julius Nyerere Way then Nelson

Mandela Avenue and finally into Third Street coming to a stop at the Meikles Hotel.

At around 4pm the show begins with local artistes among them Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah, Dendera United comprising the Chimbetus - Allan, Suluman, Tryson and Douglas - Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave, Diana Samkange and ExQ billed to perform.

At the show, music lovers will be given a free NetOne line on entry into the Glamis Arena, the venue of the bash, while food will be provided by Chicken Slice.

While the birthday bash will start on September 21, Tuku's actual birthday is on September 22. There is going to be a fireworks display at midnight courtesy of Goldtech Electronics followed by a raffle draw where fans will win Tuku @60 merchandise.

For the draw, fans have to fill in the registration forms for their NetOne lines and drop them in boxes dotted around the venue. The lines will be connected instantly. Initially, the bash was going to be recorded by ZBC as part of their sponsorship and then screened on ZBCTV at a later date, but that is no longer the case.

A private party will be held on September 22 at Pakare Paye Arts Centre, where invited guests will get up close and personal with the birthday boy.

Tickets for the public concert will be available on the day of the show through designated points such as Jazz 105, Chicken Slice, Goldtech Electronics, NetOne shops, Garwe Restaurant and Pakare Paye Arts Centre.

Tickets are going for US$10 for the rest of the ground, US$30 for the VIP and US$60 for the VVIPs, where they will be given a complimentary meal.

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