I WAS very adventurous when I was in my teens.
I would travel all the way from Norton to attend music festivals at Gwanzura.
My age mates would listen to me, with both surprise and admiration as I narrated to them the things I would have seen.
I would talk about Dr Footswitch, James Chimombe, Wells Fargo, Thomas Mapfumo, Susan Mapfumo, Pied Pipers, Zexie Manatsa and Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, among others.
At 13, I was already aware of my passion for music.
Before I started organising Jenaguru Music festivals, I used to follow the unsung heroes of the music industry – the promoters.
These included the likes of Billie Tanhira, who brought Don Williams to Zimbabwe and J.J. Chavhunduka, who groomed me to be a music promoter.
Chavhunduka would invite me to attend cocktail parties, a day before a concert.
I attended all the cocktail parties organised for Lucky Dube, P.J. Powers, Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Soul Brothers, Jimmy Cliff and many more.
He is the same promoter who helped me to invite Jambo to come and perform at the Jenaguru Festival.
Since he was known internationally, I sent him to South Africa to sign a performance contract with Jambo.
The first edition was held at the open air theatre at Harare Gardens.
I had expected Tuku to be among the main attractions of the show.
Although he agreed to perform, he missed the event since he had been invited to the South African Film Awards to receive his award for the song Neria.
However, Tuku did not disappoint, he made arrangements to be represented by Picky Kasamba and the Black Spirits at the inaugural fête.
The concert was a great success.
There was a time when Tuku’s performance declined a lot.
At one time he came to Jenaguru being backed by the Zig Zag Band.
It was difficult for Tuku to cope, but Picky gave him a shoulder to lean on.
Picky demonstrated unparalleled loyalty to Tuku during happy and sad times.
If Picky had been a combatant during Zimbabwe’s liberation war, he would have been promoted to the rank of detachment commander because of his loyalty.
I was naturally very saddened when I heard that Picky had resigned from the Black Spirits.
Their combination seemed to have been made out of this realm.
At one point, Picky had to be the drummer of the band.
Tuku kept pushing on even when things looked bleak and so did Picky.
They both supported Jenaguru Music Festivals.
There was a time when Mapfumo, Chimbetu, Zhakata and John Chibadura would charge me very high performance fees, but Tuku would ask me to pay whatever I could afford.
He could even take half of what I was paying the other groups.
When Tuku went through a dry patch, some fans started saying “he is finished” (apera).
Club owners gave him a cold shoulder during those tough times.
Then, under the management of Debbie Metcalfe, Tuku rediscovered his missing chord.
He churned out hit after hit: Bvuma, Shanda, Nhava, Tsimba Itsoka, and many others.
The very fans who were saying “apera” started trooping back to him saying Nzou is great.
He was deservingly declared a national hero when he died.
We must celebrate our heroes when they are still alive.
Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and Ottis Redding were living heroes before their deaths.
Artistes get inspiration and strength from their fans.
Fans make the artistes rise.
How many of us visited Tuku when he was seriously ill at his Norton house or at the Avenues Clinic where he finally succumbed to his illness?
Giving our heroes posthumous accolades and testimonies is a waste of energy.
Let us show true love to each other now when we are still alive and stop being pretenders.
Let me hasten to say, Tuku’s widow, Amaiguru Daisy, is a wife-and-half.
She stood by her husband during very difficult times – financial problems and then sickness.
Daisy suffered two blows in a relatively short time.
She lost Oliver, when she had barely recovered from the loss of Sam.
The death of Sam really pained me.
He had all the ingredients of becoming a megastar.
Sam could sing, dance, compose, arrange, do sound engineering as well as play mbira, hosho, guitar and saxophone.
I enjoyed watching Sam perform with his father (Nzou Nemhuru Yayo) who had a strong bond.
Daisy has borne the loss of both with extraordinary fortitude.
Tuku was a world-class musician who made us proud to be Zimbabwean.
I am looking forward to seeing documentary films and carvings in his honour.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.
l NB: For feedback, you can contact me on [email protected] or WhatsApp/SMS 0782 464 001.