It’s exactly a year since legendary musician Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi died and to his fans and artistes who have worked with him the wounds of his death are still fresh.
Tuku died from diabetes on 23 January at The Avenues Clinic in Harare at the age of 66.
With a music career spanning over 40 years, Tuku died a man who always wanted to elevate Zimbabwean music on the world scene and he achieved that through collaborations with some of the greatest local and international artistes.
These include Bra Hugh Masekela, his close friend who also died on 23 January in 2018, Winky D, Ringo Madlingozi to mention a few.
Close to his heart were the young artistes whom he always regarded as the “future of tomorrow”, as said by his former manager Walter Wanyanya.
Wanyanya revealed to B-Metro that Bulawayo was always the best city Mtukudzi loved to perform in as every time he took to the stage the City of Kings would come to life, real life as if the long-lost industrial towers were still smoking.
Courtesy of his love for the city Tuku took it upon himself to play a father figure role to most Bulawayo young talent among them South African Jazz maestro Bothwell “Bekezela” Nkomo and Berita Khumalo.
“It’s barely a year since Nzou left us and the wounds are still fresh to the family and the Black Spirits Band. Tuku was always a person who loved to see Zimbabwean music advancing to the next level and he achieved that by being loyal to the Zimbabwean sound and collaborating with artistes.
“The City of Kings was particularly one of the best cities where Tuku loved to perform because despite the language barrier, most of the city people were familiar with his music and the sing-along always amused Tuku. He also adopted young talent from Bulawayo and managed to work with them on various projects,” said Wanyanya.
Tuku’s body might have vanished but his spirit still lives on and it is among his beloved fans and the artistes that managed to work with the legendary Jazzman in his lifetime.
The above sentiments were echoed by Wanyanya further revealing that they are not going to do a show in remembrance of Tuku, instead, they have a massive line up of shows and festivals that will be held locally and internationally to celebrate Tuku’s life.
“Mtukudzi always believed in young talent and before he passed on, he re-assembled the Black Spirits into a young and vibrant band and nurtured other artistes who are doing well in the music industry including Mbeu.
“These are the people that Nzou wanted to see blossoming in music and these are the same people that will continue his legacy through different shows and festivals that are lined up for the whole year in commemorating Mtukudzi’s life,” said Wanyanya.
Bekezela Nkomo who was privileged to share the stage with Mtukudzi at the Springs Feelings Jazz and Dinner concert which marked Tuku’s last appearance in Bulawayo on 7 September 2018, revealed that it was a blessing to meet Mtukudzi in the city.
“I always had a dream to be friends with Mtukudzi but when we were supposed to do a show in Bulawayo together, I was blessed to gain something more than friendship as I realised there was a father out there who was concerned about the growth of young artistes including myself.
“When he passed on, I couldn’t cope with it as I felt it was sudden because we had agreed to do a lot together in music. His death became spiritual to me because it changed my perspective about music,” said Bekezela.
With maverick skills Bekezela has on playing a guitar, funny enough he couldn’t play a single Tuku song.
“When eNCA news approached me to perform Neria as a tribute to Mtukudzi, I couldn’t play that tune, I spent hours trying to practice it and I fell asleep. This became spiritual to me because he appeared in a dream while I was asleep and when I woke up, I practiced and in a short space I could play Neria,” said Bekezela.
Neria has become one of the cover songs that Bekezela performs during his shows in commemorating Tuku’s life.
Meanwhile, Wanyanya revealed that they would release a Tuku album early this year titled Abiyangu.
Abiyangu translates to My Friends.
The album which was recorded before Tuku’s death will feature South Africa’s multi-award winning Imbube ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Tocky Vibes among other artistes.
Tuku died last year boasting of 67 albums.
He died a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, decorated with numerous awards including KORA awards, a Reel Award for Best African Language in 2003 and a number of Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zimas) and National Arts Merit Awards (Namas).