The Sunday Mail
The Highfield community where the late Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi grew up says the legendary jazz icon who passed away on Wednesday never forgot his roots despite attaining massive fame on the international stage.
Mtukudzi, who died aged 66, was described as an inspiration and idol to the young people growing up in Highfield.
Gogo Kashiri, who gave the legend his first contract, playing in a shebeen in the township, said Tuku’s dedication to music never wavered since he started playing with makeshift instruments in the backyard when he was only a boy.
“Oliver grew up under my watch and he was like a son to me because his mother was a good friend and neighbour of mine,” she said.
“He started music when he was still very young using empty cooking oil containers and empty shoe polish containers as guitars and drums. At first we thought it wasn’t anything serious but after we listened to his sound it became clear that he was talented.
“He would play various makeshift instruments in the backyard surrounded by friends and other children of his age.
“Sometime we would think he had gone to school when he would have gone into hiding somewhere playing his music.”
Gogo Kashiri, who lives next door to Mtukudzi’s family home, said the crooner started from zero to become a global superstar.
“As he grew his music also grew up with him,” she said with a blank expression in her gaze.
“I remember at the time he came of age I was running a shebeen here and I would call him to come and perform for my customers. He was so good and they liked him. It was also around that time that he met his first manager, Jack Sadza signaling the onset of his professional music carrier.”
Gogo Kashiri talked fondly of how Tuku was a good boy growing up.
“Growing up, Oliver always towed the line, he was obedient, he respected the elders and was a very good influence to other young children in this neighborhood,” she said.
“Even after he became a superstar he never forgot us, he would come back from time to time to visit and attend, be it funerals or other functions, in the area. His death is a big loss to us as a community, Oliver was a big inspiration to the young. He showed them that even coming from a humble neighborhood such as Highfield one could become a shining star in the world.”
Gogo Kashiri’s daughter, Lilian Kashiri, also testified about Tuku’s good deeds.
“To me Oliver was that warm elder brother you would look up to for guidance and protection,” she said.
“We loved him when he entertained us with his music and instruments and we loved him when he became a star because he never changed and he always encouraged us to be brave and follow our dreams. My greatest memory was his wedding at Gwanzura Stadium, we had so much fun. Every young person in the neighborhood was part of the bridal team and the procession was just out of this world.
“We have lost a brother and we lost our icon who never forgot his roots and I say go well my brother.”
Many of Tuku’s neighbours also spoke of how he was the man-of-the-people and how he has constantly maintained connection with his roots.
In a heart-warming gesture to celebrate his 66th birthday in September last year, Mtukudzi surprised an unsuspecting couple in Waterfalls when he performed for them at their wedding, leaving them in tears.