We were not looking for hits: Tuku

By Jonathan Mbiriyamveka

HARARE-OLIVER Mtukudzi’s latest and 64th album, ‘Eheka! Nhai Yahwe’, is a laidback compilation for mature listening, his manager Sam Mataure says.

Responding to criticism that the album by the Zimbabwean superstar was lukewarm and boring, Mataure – who also doubles as Mtukudzi’s drummer – says the album was as good as it gets.

“Well, Tuku wasn’t looking for hits. In fact, the album is wholly laidback and I would say it’s for the mature.

“Unlike some of his previous recordings, the latest album is as good as it gets.”

Word doing the rounds is that “Eheka! Nhai Yahwe”, which means ‘Enjoy my Friend’ lacks the original Tuku music flair and no-one remembers the songs long after playing the CD.

A great Mtukudzi album would dominate the charts but this is not so with “Eheka! Nhai Yahwe”.

The album has so far failed to make an impact on the local charts on a number of urban radio stations, including Star FM, ZiFM and Power FM.

Besides a collaboration featuring his wife Daisy on “Haasi Masanga”, other tracks on the album are “Chori Nevamwe”, “Bhiza Ramudhara”, “Pabodzi”, “Hunapwa” and “Hadzivake” a remake of his golden oldie.

What makes Mtukudzi’s music so powerful is that he delivers his messages with a gritty vocal style reminiscent of Otis Redding over intricate patterns adapted for guitar from mbira.

It is a sound he has been refining for decades. More than a mere entertainer, Mtukudzi has been deeply involved in other art forms. He was featured in “JIT”, the first film with an all-Zimbabwean cast, and played a leading role in “Neria”, a feature film for which he also wrote and arranged the soundtrack.

He also wrote and directed the musical “Was My Child”, a production exploring the plight of street children in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.