I was once a loafer: Tuku

Jonathan Mbiriyamveka

Harare – Zimbabwe’s internationally acclaimed music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi reminisces the days he was a lone male loafer (rovha/matshayinyoka) in his neighbourhood where he did all menial jobs like killing snakes, house lizards and others, before hitting the big time in show business.

Speaking on the occasion of his 65th birthday which is celebrated on September 22 at his Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton, Mtukudzi or simply Tuku to his legion of fans, opened up saying he was abused verbally because he was unemployed.

“That was my worst moments because my peers got jobs and I was the only one unemployed in the hood.

“Vamwe vaitoti awana dzvinyu mumba make oti sheedzai Oliver ariuraye (Many women would call me to kill lizards in their houses because I was the only man available),” he was quoted as saying.

Tuku’s rise to fame has been bumpy and dotted with stumps, especially in the formative years. At one stage, Tuku was devastated when his father, Samson, destroyed his home made guitar.

“He wanted me to pursue my studies and wear a dust coat. I was quite disturbed by the development,” he said.

“What angered my father was that I invited my young brother and sister to be backing vocalists instead of assisting them with their homework.”

He said he was thankful to God for the gift of life.

Tuku has celebrated his birthday over the years with a bash that features some of his friends from the region.

This year’s gig held last weekend featured the likes of Jah Seed of Bongo Maffin, Zambia’s group Amayenge, Iyasa and Jah Prayzah.

Tuku once hit hard times and relocated to Kwekwe for several years only to make a huge splash on the mainstream music scene with his then manager Debbie Metcalfe at the turn of the millennium with the hit album, Tuku Music, that featured the masterpiece “Dande”.

The chart topper broke records in 1999 and put Tuku, who is lovingly called Samanyanga after his totem, on the world music map.

Since then he has never looked back.

He has since toured around the globe performing sold out concerts in Australia, US and Europe as well as collaborating with some of the continent’s biggest names including Hugh Masekela, Habib Koite, Lady Smith Black Mambazo and Ringo Madlingozi among others.

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