The Sunday Mail
“EH, zita ndinonzi Mtukudzi, rekupuhwa ndinonzi Oliver. Nyaya iripo ndeyekuti ngativei tinofara gore rino paChristmas, kunyanyanyanya musi wa24. Touya togocha tofara, tiri kuruzeva Pakasimbwi. Uchibva muno muHarare wapinda muBindura, pamarobots ekutanga iwe wobva wangotena left. Some 23 km watosvika Pakasimbwi, usati wanosvika Pamadziva unenge watosvika Pakasimbwi pane kakomo kaya Katsamvi tofaranuka tiripo ipapo. Tichasheedzawo, kukorokodza vana vemuMashonaland Central vanoridza imomo vese. Tenge tichingoridza ipapo tese, tichifara. Ndichakokawo vana vangu vemuno, handisati ndataura navo but kana vakasungunuka vanenge varipo, vanaSulu, vanaJah Prayzah, vanaTocky Vibes maybe naWinky D zvichidaro. Huyai tizogocha tichifara pamwechete pa Christmas paruzevha yah yah yah yah yah.”
For those not conversant in Shona, the above quote was an open invitation by Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi to every Zimbabwean particularly people from Mashonaland Central where he hailed from; to attend the Christmas party that was not to be as plans changed.
Tuku intended to throw a big party at his village home where he wanted to give his people a rare treat by inviting upcoming artistes from his province to perform alongside himself and other stars like Jah Prayzah, Suluman Chimbetu, Tocky Vibes and Winky D.
The above quote is from a conversation I had with Samanyanga in 2017. I recorded the audio of the invitation using my phone. We were to circulate it but he stopped me at the last moment. We have uploaded the audio onto our website www.sundaymail.co.zw where in his husky voice, Tuku gives directions to his homestead, as if speaking from the world yonder, for all and sundry not to get lost when they embark on a journey to lay him to rest today.
This happened in December 2017. An article about some of the things we spoke about was published in this newspaper on December 10 of the same year. I had gone to Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton on Tuku’s invitation for an exclusive listening session of his 66th album, “Hany’ga — Concern”.
I am not sure how I ended up with these privileges of lunch or dinner interviews, recording session sit-ins, video shoots and even foreign work-related engagements. He said I was candid. He even trusted me to represent young journalists on his 61st birthday dinner where I gave a speech in a packed auditorium at Rainbow Towers. When I visited him, we spoke not just about music but his personal life, his dreams and wishes, regrets and life in general — from issues of faith to political ideology. He even gave me advice together with his wife Daisy, about marriage and the complex relationships in life.
Tuku loved his rural home. He longed for a return to the serenity of rural life, he missed it. At one point I asked him why, if he felt so connected to his rural home he had buried his son, Sam, at Warren Hills Cemetery in Harare. He replied that Sam was a “town fella”; “His friends are here (Harare), his friend whom he died with (Owen Chimhare) was also from here. We wanted his friends to have access to him here because his life revolved around Harare,” said Tuku. “What about you? Where would you want to be buried?” I asked. “Pamusha pangu (at my rural home),” he responded without any hint of hesitation. “I’m an old man and I’m old school. I’m a village boy. Rukuvhute rwangu rurikumusha. I can’t be buried in town, it is inappropriate. I would want to be taken to Madziva. I have built a beautiful home there. You should come one of these days, it is very nice, serene and quiet,” said Tuku. Tuku’s rural home is 123km from Harare along the Bindura-Mt Darwin Highway, just before Madziva. The village is called kwa Mutamba.
At the December Christmas party, Tuku wanted to provide enough meat for everyone, erect a proper stage complete with lightning and his own state-of-the-art PA system. Mtukudzi often invited close friends, music promoters and lucky fans to his rural home for get-togethers. He wanted a huge Christmas party at his homestead in 2017. Maybe he knew it was his last chance to do it, maybe he suspected death was around the corner or maybe it was just a coincidence. The party never materialised besides having gone to great lengths preparing for it, international engagements got on the way.
He told me; “next year (2018) we are definitely doing it.”
When the following Christmas arrived, Tuku was actually in hospital. His family and friends went to fetch him from a private hospital in Harare, took him home to Norton where a treat had been organised. Youthful artiste, Bryn K, played him some music from an acoustic guitar as the family gathered around the superstar. It was not at his beloved rural home in Madziva, the crowd
was much smaller and intimate than what he had in mind for his rural treat — but, it was a gathering of loved ones all the same. After Christmas, Tuku was to be in and out of hospital until the fateful day, Wednesday January 23 2019, when he took his last breath.
Grief has struck not just his family, fans, rural village neighbours, Mashonaland Central or even Zimbabwe — the world is mourning Tuku’s death. As we show elsewhere in this newspaper, Presidents like Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, former heads of state, leading corporations, top businesspeople, church leaders, celebrities from around the world and music lovers in general have expressed shock and a deep sense of loss.
Although today is Tuku’s burial, it is in fact a celebration of the legend’s life as we have seen, heard and read on different media platforms.
Thirteen months after he mooted the idea and even started planning, Tuku’s rural party is finally here.
Local musicians cancelled their shows to perform for Tuku. On top of Sulu, Jah Prayzah, Tocky Vibes and his Mashonaland Central upcoming artistes, Tuku will today be joined by Alick Macheso, Baba Charamba, Nicholas Zacharia, Jah Signal, Mbeu, Gary Tight and even South Africans, Ringo Madlingozi and Yvonne Chaka-Chaka among many others. It is bigger than he would have ever imagined.
Tuku is making the 123km journey to his chosen final resting place in Madziva. Some people have wrongly interpreted this as a snub of the Government offer by the Mtukudzi family.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Government and the Mtukudzi family are simply respecting Tuku’s wishes. This is clearly a departure from the old; the listening Government of President Mnangagwa offered the Mtukudzi family everything accorded any National Hero.
Since Wednesday, thousands of people have thronged Tuku’s house in Nhowe, Norton. His friends, international artistes, politicians, academics and ordinary music fans have descended on Harare on their way to Madziva.
Tuku’s rural treat is still on. A National Hero Status comes with resources, people from Tuku’s village, although mourning, still get to eat lots of meat today. They will still drink their favourite beverages and see celebrities and top musicians in their own village. There are many unfulfilled things Tuku wanted to do musically, for the people and for his family. We even had plans together. But we will never make the journey to the Bushfire Festival in Swaziland this year as we had planned, where he was one of the headline acts.
Many festivals have had to change their line-ups as Tuku was always fully booked in advance, but such is life.
Ultimately, the Almighty makes the decisions, we just play along. If there is an afterlife, I hope we meet again. I hope he has been reunited with his beloved son, Sam, his brother Robert, his manager whom he spoke about a lot, Jack Sadza, and his parents Samson and Jessica.
Rest In Eternal Peace Samanyanga. You left us lots of music and great memories. We will forever hold you in our hearts, the world will forever remember you. Legends do not die, they live forever. One love.