As tributes for Oliver Mtukudzi poured in, artistes from around the continent spoke highly about Tuku, emphasising his humility despite his achievements.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka, a fellow Unicef ambassador chronicled how Tuku convinced her to come for the Jacaranda Festival in Harare last year where she, together with Mi Casa and Berita, performed alongside Tuku.
She said it was planned that the festival would be taken to Bulawayo this year after its success in Harare.
“Tuku was different on stage. When he took his guitar he was something else, he had people eating out of his hand. When he was off-stage you could actually ask him hey ngicela ungikhele amanzi laphaya.
“He was so humble and yet he was such a big star. He had no airs. He had no chip on his shoulder. He always had his feet firmly on the ground and I learnt a lot from him. I was very happy to have been in Zimbabwe when he was also made Unicef goodwill ambassador.”
Multi-award winning Moreira Chonguica, a Mozambican Jazz saxophonist, described Tuku as “the royalty of African music” and part of a generation that sang for the liberation of the continent.
Moreira shared the stage with Mtukudzi many times and said he was a story teller who could do that from Johannesburg to London right up to New York.
Exclaiming on the 60 albums Mtukudzi produced, Moreira said the record number of albums was testimony to the hard work, determination and commitment to the art that Tuku had.
He also praised Tuku for his many collaborations with musicians that at times seemed to be of different genres, remarking that his collaborations outside his ‘comfort zone’ were quite unique. Locally, Tuku has collaborated with the likes of EX-Q and Winky D.
Ringo Madlingozi, a South African artiste that collaborated with Tuku, who interestingly referred to him as Mukoma Tuku, said the artiste was generous with his art and helped others with the ‘utmost humility’.
Having received Tuku’s stamp of approval for his song Into Yam’, Ringo said they agreed to do a collaboration on the song that he said they did in four hours on an occasion when Tuku was en route to London and just phoned to check if he was free and then scheduled the recording. He said the song opened doors for him in Zimbabwe while also spreading Tuku’s wings in the South African market.
The three artistes spoke on eNCA on Wednesday as tributes poured in after reports of the death of the superstar.
For DJ and music producer, DJ Fresh, losing Mtukudzi exactly a year after the passing of Hugh Masekela was just too much of a coincidence.
“A year ago, the world lost Icon Bra #HughMasekela. The very next day Bra #OliverMtukudzi joined us for some #FreshBreakfast. He spoke so fondly of Bra Hugh & the memories they created together. Exactly a year later & they are together again,” tweeted DJ Fresh.
About 2 300 kilometres from Mtukudzi’s homeland, Kenyan politician Raila Odinga joined millions of people across the world in mourning the Zimbabwean music icon.
“Your question rendered in lyrics, What Shall We Do? May still have no answer. But be assured Africa and the world are struggling with it even as we accept the finality of your death. We will miss your enthralling performances and salute you. Rest in peace Oliver Mtukudzi,” he tweeted.
Tuku touched many hearts through his music and humanitarian work.
A Zimbabwean journalist that has been on many travels with Tuku, Sandra Nyaira, said in a personal tribute that she learnt a lot from her association with the legend.
“He taught me so many life lessons – one being that there is always great joy in giving. Even those who have, he said to me one day, also crave to be given even the smallest of presents by friends and relatives. This was after my dear friend and uncle, Simba Chabarika, had given him a tracksuit as a present at one of his London gigs,” she said.
She notes that she will never forget his great humility; professionalism; and his great spirit having interacted with him on countless occasions.
“By the way, he was now my neighbour in Norton. I can’t believe we are talking of him in the past tense,” continued the shocked Tuku fan and friend.