21 April 2019

Zimbabwe: Another Tuku Protégé Emerges

"No matter how beautiful you dance; your feet will always come back to the ground," says rising Afro-jazz musician Innocent "Answer" Kufakunesu, recalling one of the lessons from his late mentor Oliver Mtukudzi.

The 24-year-old Kufakunesu, who hails from Norton, is a product of Pakare Paye Arts Centre and fronts his outfit Feso, named after the first published Shona novel by Solomon Mutsvairo in 1957.

His rise to popularity is greatly attributed to his unmatched ability to mimic the voice of the late legendary superstar, whom he met when he was 15 years old.

"Mudhara Tuku saw the ability within me and helped me realise my potential as an artiste by mentoring me and teaching me the traits of a musician," Kufakunesu told Standard Style.

A student of Sociology at the University of Zimbabwe, Kufakunesu showed his stage prowess when he performed at the opening ceremony of the Zimbabwe Universities Sports Association competition in 2017.

He was recently invited to South Africa to work alongside top regional artistes like Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Sief Kabelele among many others from all over Africa on a project called New Pan African Music Album.

He said the opportunity was life-changing.

"I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many talented artistes from all over Africa. It really opened my eyes to the multiple avenues that can be explored in music," he said.

Last year he took part in the talent search competition Dream Star, taking first position at his college and battled all the way to the national finals where came out third.

"It has been a journey for me so far since I got the opportunity to showcase my ability. I got invited to perform at various prestigious events like the 18th Nama awards ceremony in commemoration of my mentor. I want to show my appreciation for the acknowledgement, I am truly grateful," he said.

He said he would soon release an eight-track album with South Africa's Sony Records.

"I'm working on my first album that is coming out soon whose date of release will be advised in due course," he said.

"All those who support me and are fans of my music should brace for a well-conceived album."

While he performed at various fora, Kufakunesu singled out the performance he did at the sending-off of his late mentor as his best.

"The greatest stage I have ever performed on was the day I performed at my mentor's funeral, not because of the number of people present, but because of the emotional standing of it all," he said.

"My wish is that the arts in Zimbabwe become more than glamour and cat fights. I wish that it rises beyond and becomes a source of healing for many people."

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