Tourists flock to Tuku’s rural homestead

18 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Tourists flock to Tuku’s rural homestead (From left) Sir Wicknell, Alick Macheso visit the grave of the late Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi while accompanied by Daisy (Tuku’s widow) and a relative. (Inset) The late Oliver Mtukudzi

Tendai Chara recently in MADZIWA, Mount Darwin

DRIVING along the Bindura-Mount Darwin Highway, just after the Chidembo Primary School turn-off, in Madziva, Shamva district, one will easily notice a huge thatched house that is neatly tucked within an equally imposing perimeter fence.

On approaching the homestead’s huge white gate — which is always locked — the word “Tuku”, written in glowing white, suddenly comes into view.

Welcome to the rural home of the late international music legend and national hero Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi.

Since his death on January 23, 2019, some of his fans have been trying — without success —to get into the massive compound for a glimpse of the late artiste’s grave.

Tuku died at a Harare hospital aged 66 after a battle with diabetes.

According to the Mtukudzi homestead caretaker, Tobias Chigoora, the number of people who are visiting the place is increasing.

“In the five months that I have been staying here, I have seen several people coming to try and access Tuku’s grave. In the past, we used to have two or three people passing by, but recently, up to six are coming per week,” Chigoora said.

“Some plead with me to be allowed inside. One even tried to bribe me. Unfortunately, this homestead and Tuku’s grave are a no-go area.”

In 2019, businessman Wicknell Chivayo, who was accompanied by musician Alick Macheso, visited Tuku’s grave.

According to Chigoora, some of the visitors are from faraway places, and from diverse social and racial backgrounds.

Tuku’s widow and some of the family members are said to regularly visit the homestead. George Munangatire, the Chaminuka Rural District Council councillor for Ward 7, in which Tuku’s homestead is located, confirmed the increased interest in the late musician’s grave.

He revealed that a group of German nationals recently visited the homestead,  but were denied entry.

Sarah Kratz, an American citizen who is a fan of the late singer, was disappointed when she failed to gain access to the homestead.

“I have recently been to Zimbabwe. I was disappointed when I was barred from visiting Tuku’s homestead and grave. I desperately wanted to see where my favourite musician lies,” Kratz wrote on one of her social media blogs.

Kratz said whenever she visits Zimbabwe, she makes sure to pass through Tuku’s homestead, and unfortunately is always denied entrance.

Apart from being a musician, Tuku was a businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF goodwill ambassador for Southern Africa. With a career spanning four decades, his music, charm and sense of humour touched the hearts of many throughout the world.


The local community is trying to find ways of benefitting from Tuku’s popularity.

Some of the villagers suggested Mtukudzi’s homestead be declared a national monument, where his fans can come as tourists.

Martin Mupfeki, the Munetsi village headman, like several other villagers, is aware of the financial opportunities that Tuku’s grave can present.

“I think the local community can financially benefit from the tourists who are coming here to visit his grave, if people are allowed access,” reckons Mupfeki.

Sandra Muchoko, a local, chipped in: “I do not know how this can be done, but I can see that allowing visitors into the homestead will change our fortunes here. This is just a suggestion.”

Close to the homestead are a number of people who sell an assortment of products.

The Chaminuka Rural District Council is, according to Munangatire, trying to find ways of accommodating tourists who want to visit the place.

“As council, we sat down and deliberated on the issue. We presented our proposals to the relevant authorities and we await their response. Both council and the local community are losing potential revenue,” notes Munangatire.

Community reflections

The local community took time to reflect on the interactions they had with the national hero.

Mupfeki described the late singer as a humble and generous person.

“I knew him from the very first time that he came to this village. He was humble and generous. He could actually sit down and chat, for a long time, with an ordinary person like me,” said the headman.

Tuku’s homestead is located on the boundary of the Munetsi and Chirimuuta villages.

According to Mupfeki, Tuku helped a lot of people in the community.

“He provided funds for the renovation of a local church and he also used his money to hire a grader which was used to level a soccer pitch that the young people are using today,” he said.

Mtukudzi also assisted in the construction of a classroom block at Mupfurudzi Primary School and often helped many other educational institutions.

Tuku is also said to have brought electricity closer to his home.

Mupfeki’s son, Tonderai, had a much closer relationship with the late musician.

“I am a builder. I constructed a lot of buildings at his home. I even renovated his house in Norton this year and did some renovations at the Pakare Paye Arts Centre.”

Tonderai said when the “Todii?” singer was alive, he could use his cattle for ploughing and was also allowed to take manure from the cattle pen.

His relationship with the Mtukudzi family still exists.

“When he died, I was tasked with constructing the lid that was placed on his grave.”

Stella Chirombo, a villager, said the singer’s death was “a great loss” to the community.

“Personally, I used to buy horticultural products at the Mtukudzi homestead for resale. He also used to run a poultry project. As a community, we benefitted a lot,” she said.

Evaristo Chirimuuta, the Chirimuuta village headman, described Tuku as a man of the people, who put his village on the world map.

“In his songs, he mentioned three hillocks found in this village — Katsamvi, Dombodzvuku and Kasimbi. To me, this means he was proud of this village and was not ashamed of being associated with it.”

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