Tuku, Newsmaker of the year

HARARE - Rarely has a musician garnered this kind of public fascination.

But again, rarely do they scorn attention as much as it appears Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, who turned 60 this year, does.

From reports of his death, to his mega birthday bash, to being named United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Tuku has helped focus national, regional and international attention on Zimbabwe in a unique way.

His 60th birthday party was arguably the best party of the year in Zimbabwe. He displayed to all and sundry that he was Zimbabwe’s leading songwriter, a fatherly figure and it is reported that more than 10 000 people attended the mega show.

Tall and relaxed, with a low husky voice, he calls for dignity, responsibility and respect among tribes and cultures. His songs judiciously blend styles from across southern Africa and beyond without submerging local traits.

Playing an acoustic set on his birthday party night or leading hisband, the Black Spirits, Mtukudzi makes the masses dance.

He has promoted local talent throughout the year at his Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton.

That is how Tuku came to be named the Daily News Newsmaker of the Year. There is absolutely no doubt that Tuku definitely knows how to pull some strings, or rather, play them. From gracing functions presided over by the First Lady at her orphanage to performing for peace, he has led the way in this inclusive dispensation.

The guitarist is upping his game, taking the music scene by storm with his classical collaborations even with foreigners.

“The public thirst for success stories was quenched with coverage of Tuku’s success story,” the Daily News Editorial Council noted.

Away from the classical Katekwe music to a variety of social responsibility programmes, Tuku has proven quite successful even in his work ethic.

And his planned homecoming gig with Thomas Mapfumo became one of the major talking points this year.

Unlike his friend Mapfumo — Zimbabwe’s only other bona fide international superstar — Mtukudzi has never allied himself with a political party, even in Zanu PF’s heyday soon after independence.

He is also the ultimate performer. He sings, plays guitar and dances throughout his shows often for four hours straight — although, at 60, he has stopped playing Pungwes.

Even after the loss of his son Sam, Tuku has shown that he is not thrown off his game very easily.

He has mourned his son with the nation in his song Ndakaronga Dondo — a desperate appeal to God. - Staff Writer

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