Zimbabwe: Tuku Legacy Under Spotlight

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Tuku laid to rest.

The late music superstar Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi will be laid to rest at his rural home in Madziwa, Shamva district in Mashonaland Central province today, amid revelations that it was the musician's choice to be interred among his ancestors.

Although Tuku was on Thursday declared a national hero, the superstar will not be buried at the shrine.

In one of the songs titled Hero that is buried in an impressive catalogue of over 60 albums, Mtukudzi poses pertinent questions on what constitutes a national hero.

"Do you have to die to be a hero?" Tuku quizzed while declaring departed artiste Safirio Madzikatire one.

"Yes, I remember some of the lyrics in his plays, Handinzwi. That's a hero, what a hero Mukadota... "

Tuku may have been baffled in the world of the living his entire life yet his existence was the answer to his question.

Loud calls from the arts fraternity and fans pleaded that he be conferred the national hero status after the entertainer's passing on Wednesday and the government obliged.

Aged 66 at the time of his death, Mtukudzi was by any measure a hero.

A humanitarian, he was not only a star for gracing international stages neither because of all types of gongs in his cabinet, but for healing the masses throughout a music career spanning four decades.

His influence had long transcendend local confines and if his burial place was to be a subject for debate, some would possibly suggest he rests on the banks of the Limpopo (border between Zimbabwe and South Africa), or somewhere at the very centre of the continent.

All suggestions are understandable because the icon was a shared symbol of African heritage, but his family has discarded the Heroes Acre space which comes with the national hero status settling for rural Madziva where he comes from.

The final resting place could have been his choice, now all eyes are fixed on his legacy.

Music critic and promoter Benjamin Nyandoro said while he welcomed the decision by the Mtukudzi family to inter the musician at his rural home, he felt the decision could have repercussions on the Tuku legacy.

"My proposition would have been an application by the Tuku family for a burial site at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton and turn the centre into a 'Dr Oliver Mtukudzi Arts Centre' that would host, among others, tours, a music school, hotel and conference centre, live performances, recording studio, music library and store," said Nyandoro.

"Now, a decision to lay to rest the legend at his rural home 114km north of Harare defeats the narrative. Serious thought must go into how the legacy preservation will be sustained.

"There is need to monetise and sustain operations at Pakare Paye, management of the Tuku brand and the family. It is an expensive exercise to say the least, as it requires enlisting services of skilled and qualified personnel."

With the death of his only son, Sam, 10 years ago, it seems there is no one to take over the Tuku throne.

"The gap left by Tuku will be difficult to fill. He was an iconic figure in his own right and as Zimbabweans, especially those upcoming musicians, it would be wise to take note of the lessons that we learnt from Tuku if we are to keep his legacy," said jazz musician Bob Nyabinde.

Nyabinde, who claims to have met Tuku first in 1978 and later in 1985 when the late musician relocated to Kwekwe, was optimistic the musician's legacy would be kept alive.

Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) chairman Joseph Nyadzawo said his organisation would do all it could to help keep the late musician's legacy alive.

"As Zima, we have been working hand in glove with Dr Tuku and we believe despite his death, we will do all we can to keep the Tuku brand running," he said.

On Thursday, Tuku's wife Daisy vowed to keep his husband's legacy alive.

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