The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
Superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi says contrary to popular belief, he does not nurture talent at his Pakare Paye Arts Centre but only provides a platform for budding musicians to be themselves on stage.

The institution that he founded 14 years ago is situated in Norton and according to the legendary musician, who was in the city yesterday for the Spring Feelings Jazz and Soul show, has been mistaken by people as a place where he nurtures talent.

“I nurturing talent at Pakare Paye could be a lie. I’m actually providing a platform. That place came about as a way to try to fight a problem we always faced as artistes, especially attitudes from our own parents.

“They didn’t believe in who we were and wanted us to be who they wanted – ignoring who we are. So what I offer young talent is appreciation because they don’t get appreciation at home,” Tuku said in an exclusive interview.

Reminiscing about his parents, Tuku said his greatest inspiration was his late father Samson who was a musician. This he said was not a blessing for him as his father had reservations about him taking up music as a career as he knew the ins and outs of the music industry.

“It was only when I came home with a cheque of royalties for my first single Dzandimomotera in 1974 that they (parents) believed what I was doing was of substance.

“However, other than that, they were totally against me doing music, especially my father. He knew the hardships,” said Tuku.

Having built a music career that has spanned over four decades, Tuku three years ago launched a range of shoes called Hai Kobo. Looking back at the project, Tuku said he was failing to meet demand for the shoe line.

“I’m simply failing to supply the shoes to the people. People like them (shoes) and demand is very high. Very soon though people will see a shop here in Bulawayo to decentralise the shoe business,” said Tuku.

“The demand of the shoe comes from the dance hai kobo which people enjoy imitating.”

So much has been said about Tuku’s life in books such as the controversial Backstage written by his ex-manager Shepard Mutamba. As such, there has been a lot of interest in the books which Tuku said mean nothing to him as he has not read any of them.

“I’ve never read the book (Backstage) and he (Mutamba) has never given me the book. I just know that he wrote a book (about me) but I don’t know the contents of that said book.

“I’ve never met him after because he disappeared and he’s nowhere to be seen,” said Tuku.

A lot of young artistes from Africa look up to Tuku as the oracle of the continent’s music as he has toured the world. One of the young artistes who has nothing but praise for Tuku is Bekezela. Tuku had a little bit of advice for such people to succeed and it was to be themselves and be proud of their heritage.

“I’d like to tell Bekezela that he’s on the right track with his music. Just be who you’re and keep doing what you’re doing. For Zimbabwe musicians, they should be proud of who they are.

“That’s all they should do because we’re not born to compete with each other as artistes, but we’re chosen to complement each other. That’s the reason we’re in the world.”

As Tuku turns 66 on September 22, he said he was not going to hold a big bash, but instead have an intimate dinner. This he said was because of the many events that were taking place this month including the inaugural Solo Festival they held at Pakare Paye Arts Centre last week.