National hero Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, one of Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognised cultural icons of all time remained grounded in his roots despite his fame and fortune.
ZBC Reporter Tapiwa Machemedze visited Tuku’s rural home at Kasimbwi in Shamva District.
Tuku was proud of his roots and often sang about it in some of his songs.
He built his house nearby Katsamvi hill where his parents had built their homestead.
The picturesque grey-thatched house built in the foreground of the stony Katsamvi hill stands out for its splendor in contrast to neighbouring homes.
Portraits of the music superstar hang on the wall together with his wife Daisy as well as a Platinum Award for sales in excess of 50 000 for his 1999 album Tuku Music and a Gold Award for his Greatest Hits album.
Three Kora Music Awards are displayed on a television cabinet along with one NAMA and 2 other awards.
This rural home could make other city homeowners grin with envy.
Seated in the lounge Tuku’s aunt Eunice Mtukudzi is in a sombre mood, tears visible in her eyes along with a few family members.
Born in a family of six children, 2 boys and four girls, Tuku started off playing makeshift drums as a young boy until he became a fatherly figure in the nation, recalls his aunt.
“This was his home, his parents are late, my wish was for his body to be brought to his house, then he can be buried wherever people want him to be buried,” said Aunty Eunice.
Tuku’s young brother Nelson Mtukudzi, who was with him in his early years both at Kasimbwi and Highfield, recalls the early days of Tuku’s music career which started with the Wagon Wheels.
“He was the remaining elder in the family after the death of his young brother Robert. His death is painful. I stayed with him and his father after the death of my father and later he looked after me. He was fond of me and we used to do everything together…,” Nelson said.
All the young members of the family have nothing but positive words showing what a down to earth man Tuku was despite his fame and fortune.
Mdhara Tuku and Nzou are the popular names used to describe the superstar at a nearby market stall and at Kasimbwi shops.
Nzou had built a soccer ground and was sponsoring Kasimbwi Stars a social soccer side.
With Tuku gone, all the developments hang in the balance now.
There was even talk of renaming Mupfurudzi School after Mtukudzi but some people resisted.
This place is poorer without Tuku and more so Zimbabwe and Africa for he was a true legend.
The memories will remain forever and it will always be remembered that a legend hailed from this area.
Tuku’s unique dressing
Meanwhile, the legendary national hero is not only remembered for the sweet music he gave the world but also his unique dressing and unique acting skills that made him stand in his own league.
Tuku’s Midas touch was felt on every project he laid his hands on.
In the 1990’s many will remember a number of adverts which were shown on the small screens.
Apart from the comic advert skits, Tuku was also a good actor and for many tears will fall when they watch movies such Jiti and the feature film Neria, a movie which captures how widows suffer from abuse and patriarchy after the passing on of their spouses.
Outside the entertainment circles, Tuku was in his own league as far as dressing is concerned.
The modern Tuku was always wearing an African print shirt sometimes with a matching hat and a cross bag (nhava), typically telling of how he was a proud African.
Like he always said heroes never die, surely his legacy will live on for generations to come.