Tuku, Legend

Dear Mambo,

This is a sad post to write because today, Oliver Mutukudzi, best known as Tuku, died.

I want to talk to you about being so staunch in what you believe in to the point that you master it, become the best at it, like Tuku was in his music, like he was for one of our countries of origin. I want to tell you so much, but I am so sad.

I want to tell you of how your granddad listened to Tuku often and introduced your uncle and I to this beautiful guitar based music- amongst other African and international greats. I want to tell you how I was too shy to approach Tuku and ask for a handshake, and never ended up getting one. I want to tell you about how my muzukuru Fugi got married at Tuku’s studio in Norton and we had the wedding of a lifetime- to the point of breaking heels. Yes. I want to tell you about the time your mama’s Do and Ottilia and I saw Tuku in Swaziland on our maiden voyage to Bushfire. Man. What a time. We danced until Tuku was done, and by then, we were done. I want to tell you how we all talk of this man with such great pride, even though he is no relation of ours. And we never knew him, but we knew him. I want to tell you how beautiful his melodies are and how unique they are and how much time I spent researching his music. I wanted to write about him and planned to take you to meet him. So I could do my job as a mother and inspire you, or introduce you to those who can inspire you. Tuku means a lot to me. In my own capacity as an admirer, more than a fan.

Instead, I am going to tell you about when you experienced Tuku. Yourself.

Granny Colleen organized an outing in celebration of your Granny Lynette’s birthday last year. Granny Colleen is really the queen of bringing people together around great entertainment, believe me. This time, it was a Hugh Masekela tribute, where Tuku was performing. I was very excited because I had not seen him perform in a while, but more important, I was so happy that I was going to take you. I cry as I write this because, I remember my excitement. Your first Tuku concert, that I really believed would be one of many. I remember when his account re-posted our Instagram story. Wow. I thought we had made it. We had made it. His social media person knew there was a mom out there who was so happy to be watching Tuku with her own mom and her daughter.

You ran through the pictures of Hugh Masekela in the waiting area before we went into the concert. And now, I wonder if you will run through pictures of Tuku if we ever go to his tribute concert. You were so free, not worrying about anyone around you, probably unaware that you were about to witness a legend, paying tribute to a legend. I also don’t think you knew that this was not his best performance, it was very short. He played Neria, in my opinion not his best song, but because we are in South Africa, a must because you must play what people know. I also think that I am biased because I know so many more Tuku songs.

You were tired that night, and I brushed it aside because I thought there would be more concerts. Granny Colleen didn’t come, but the rest of the group did. We sat next to Aunty Janine and Grandpa Kofi and danced to the mix of Hugh Masekela and Oliver Mtukudzi songs- let us not forget it was a Hugh Masekela tribute show, after all. I am sad, but also very happy that you at least got to experience it. Though you may not remember, mommy will have pictures to show you. I deeply regret not taking you to his studio while we were in Norton. Next time we will do all the things we can in Norton and not let Granny Lynette tell us whack stories about fuel prices. We will just steal the car and joyride and get in trouble after we have had our fun. I am definitely going to take you to his studio. I am so glad that you still danced. In your tired state. That you felt this music the way that we did. You clapped your hands and sang along. I am glad the moment did not pass you by.

Mama Audrey and I were planning to take you and Zoe to his show the next time he came, so you could meet the legend himself. We will sadly never get to do that, that breaks my heart. I think what breaks my heart even more than that though, is knowing that your uncle Roddy will not see Tuku again. I don’t think that’s fair at all. He can tell you all of his Tuku adventures when you are ready to hear stories. I think another reason my heart is so sore is that Tuku was music that I enjoyed with my dad, and slowly, all of these things are becoming memories. Your grand parents and I had a laugh about how I travelled to Swaziland to experience Tuku for the first time. To be honest, I never saw Tuku perform in our own land, and that is another reminder of opportunity lost.

I am sure our town of Norton is in the blackest of mourning as we speak, I really hope he is declared a national hero, because really, he was. His music brought everyone together. It had no racial, financial, gender, language, age or social status boundaries. He sang so many important messages, I hope I get to teach you all the songs I know. He was a man for everyone.

Our house is currently ablaze with the perfectly arranged sounds Tuku created through his guitar. You will truly not know another like him, I can pretty much guarantee you that. Zimbabwe has very few extraordinary exports, and Tuku, was definitely top 5.

I also cannot help but wonder if he will meet grandpa up there, maybe they are already talking about what a great journey they had, over a glass of whiskey, for the pain they leave behind. Tonight Tuku plays with a chorus of angels.

Tumirai mhere kuvakuru, kuno kwaita mabasa. Kunze kwadoka.

Zororai murugare Samanyanga.

Love,

MamaMambo

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