20 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Tuku Reflects On Career, Music Journey

Photo: GuguLethu
Oliver Mtukudzi

Music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, who turns 65 this Friday, says the late Safirio "Mukadota" Madzikatire inspired him to venture into arts, when the genre was still lowly regarded.

In an interview at the Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton on Monday, said it was during Mukadota's frequent visits to their home that inspired Tuku to take up music. By then Mtukudzi was only 17, and he wanted to follow the path of his parents who used to sing with Mukadota.

However that was against his parents' wishes -- Samson and Jesca- who wanted the best from him. He was heartbroken when his father destroyed a guitar he had made.

"He wanted me to pursue my studies and wear a white dust coat. I was disturbed by the development," he said. Mtukudzi defied his father's orders and bought an acoustic guitar he kept at his neighbour Shadreck Kashiri's homestead.

"What angered my father was that I invited my young brother and sister to be backing vocalists instead of assisting them with their homework," he said. Things got worse in 1971 when he could not get a job.

"That was my worst moments because my peers got jobs and I was the only one in the hood, who was unemployed. Vamwe vaitoti awana dzvinyu mumba make oti sheedzai Oliver ariuraye) because I was the only one in the ghetto," he said. That prompted him to pen the song "Dzandimomotera", which became an instant hit.

After the song topped the charts on local radio stations the musician had his first show when he joined Wagon Wheels. He recounts how he had a bad show in Rusape at Vhengere Hall.

"Echoes disturbed my act and people thought I was not the one who had a hit song "Dzandimomotera" that was being played on radio. People threw buckets of beer on me chasing me off the stage," he said. Mtukudzi also recounts how he performed for less than 15 fans in South Africa on his debut regional tour.

"It was not an easy journey but I want to thank God for taking me this far," he said. Born and bred in Highfield the musician said he settled for Norton, after failing to secure a place for an arts Centre in Harare.

"I applied for a stand for an arts Centre in Harare but I could not get it. That is when I decided to apply in places outside the capital," he said. The musician who turns 65 on Friday urged the nation to fear God.

A massive birthday bash has been set on Saturday at Pakare Paye Arts Centre for the superstar, where several local and regional musicians are expected to serenade guests. Amayenge from Zambia, Jah Seed from South Africa, Iyasa and Jah Prayzah will provide entertainment at the bash.

"This time I invited some of my favourite musicians, unlike other years, where I would ask our fans to decide on the artists they wanted to grace the show. Turning to Sam Mataure's issue the musician said they felt he the load was getting heavy for him and they wanted to assist.

"Sam was not fired but we decided to have a department specifically for booking of shows. When I spoke to him he said it is fine," he said.

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