The Sunday Mail
ON Monday February 18 at 6.23pm, a statement appeared on the Tuku Music Official Facebook page, part of it read; “We would like to distance ourselves from any events or gatherings that are being held in the name of the Mtukudzi family as we are still grieving.”
For the next 48 hours, the statement would cause an uproar on social media as a one-sided debate raged with the bulk of comments attacking Daisy Mtukudzi, the widow of the late Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, for seemingly trying to stifle the rise of her talented step-daughter, Selmor.
Observers saw the statement as a pre-emptive strike by Daisy — as corporates, promoters and music fans in general seem to be sympathising with Selmor and Sandra, Dr Mtukudzi’s daughters from his first marriage.
Dr Mtukudzi died on January 23 and was laid to rest on January 27 at his rural home in Madziva, about 23 kilometres along the Bindura-Mt Darwin highway.
The question of who should carry on with the legend’s musical legacy has occupied public discourse since his death, with Daisy herself, her daughter with Dr Mtukudzi, Samantha, and Mtukudzi’s daughter with first wife Selmor, being touted as possible candidates.
Insiders have pointed out that Selmor has been receiving a lot of attention from potential sponsors and promoters, and that there could be a massive tribute show on the cards headlined by the “Nguva Yangu” hit-maker. This is said to have prompted Daisy and her advisers to issue a statement pointing out that any event without her blessings would be illegitimate.
Read the statement: “We are still trying to come to terms with the loss of our pillar of strength and as such we have not engaged any organisation or individual to organise, plan any events on behalf and for the Mtukudzi family here in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. All events that have the endorsement of Tuku Music and the Mtukudzi Family will be posted on the official Tuku Music social media pages, the first such official event being the Cape Town Jazz Festival that Dr Mtukudzi was meant to have performed at this year and the show will now be a celebration of his life in music by his backing band the Black Spirits.”
Ironically, family in this instance, only refers to Daisy and her children Samantha and Faith aided by the shrewd Tuku Music manager Walter Wanyanya. The rest of the family, including Selmor and Sandra, who represented the Mtukudzi family at a tribute concert last month held at the Jo’burg Theatre in South Africa are not part of the decision makers.
Even when the shocking decision to put on ice a Government planned peace memorial concert in honour of Tuku was made, Selmor and Sandra were not consulted. Sources said senior officials at the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, which was part of the team tasked by Government to put the event together were left fuming after realising that stopping the event had nothing to do with respecting the mourning period but a unilateral decision made by Daisy possibly to spite Selmor.
Besides feeling that people are trying to milk from her husband’s death, sources said Daisy was worried the Government planned event would endorse Selmor as the heir of the Tuku legacy, musically, and send her on her way to international stardom.
It is said Daisy and her strategists are hoping that after the Cape Town Jazz Festival, which takes place on March 29 and 30, The Black Spirits and a leader of Daisy’s choice, will be in a better position to give a good account of themselves when the Government-funded peace concert is finally held in April.
However, in a bizarre turn of events, Daisy opened the doors to Pakare Paye Arts Centre, the place where Tuku spent most of his time, for a musical commercial gig on Friday February 15, while telling everyone else that the family needed time to mourn. Many more gigs are planned including the resurrection of Tuku’s Dzvamutsvamu concept, a series of shows he did at the arts centre featuring himself and a guest artiste.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail Society, Wanyanya refused to comment on anything pertaining to the family, saying he represented Tuku Music. He went on to pour cold water on reports that Samantha is set to take over as the lead vocalist but said she was part of the band and the Black Spirits would have “many lead vocalists”.
“Samantha has always been a part of the Black Spirits. She is not there by privilege, she is there because she is a singer and has been with the band for three years. It is mdhara (Tuku) who put her there.
“But I don’t know why you are not asking about Charles, who is still the bassist, Fiona who does backing vocals or Rodwell who is on electric guitar. Black Spirits will never die, chisipo ndiNzou chete (only Nzou is not there),” said Wanyanya. Nzou is the late Mtukudzi’s totem, a moniker used by friends, fans and family. He was also known as Samanyanga, which means the same thing as Nzou, the elephant.
Added Wanyanya: “Tuku left a young band. They are here to stay. No one is taking over Tuku’s position, no one can.” Efforts to contact Daisy on her mobile phone were unsuccessful.
Contacted for comment, Tuku’s oldest daughter, Sandra, who caused a stir at her father’s funeral in Madziva after she pointed out how there were attempts to erase her mother, Mtukudzi’s first wife Melody, from the programme and the musician’s life, chose only to speak about Selmor’s band, which she manages.
“Yes we saw the statement on Facebook. We are not sure to whom it was directed or what it means but one thing for certain is that Selmor and her band will continue doing what they have been doing for over a decade.
“When dad died, Selmor was actually in England for a tour. So we will continue working as we have done over the years. We will mourn and honour our father the best way we can. His legacy lives,” said Sandra, who is also Selmor’s backing vocalist.
Just like the splinter Chimbetu bands, separately led by Allan, Suluman, Tryson and Douglas — beneficiaries of the Oliver Mtukudzi musical brand are likely to be as many. There are also plenty of interested parties — from his own children, his widow, to former band members and music promoters. Having groomed a number of young musicians at his Pakare Paye Arts Centre, it would not be surprising if any one of them or more, decided to pursue the popular Tuku Music path with vigour in order to reap more from the often stingy and unforgiving local music sector.