Tuku book: Much ado about nothing

Perhaps it is fitting that we review Shepherd Mutamba’s “Tuku Backstage Second Edition” as we get into Easter Weekend.

This is a book that tries to resurrect a first edition that died on the shelves. But it is unlikely that next Sunday will see it emerge from its tomb.

Mutamba should have left matters with that first edition.

If there was need for a second book on music legend Oliver Mtukudzi, perhaps due to contractual obligations or whatever, Mutamba should have just made this a photo documentary rather than try bait readers with an old narrative.

Mutamba’s unjustified character assassination of Jah Prayzah in the book (page 155), labelling him “the ambassador of gukurahundi” simply because he is a brand ambassador of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, speaks volumes about the desperation for relevance.

That the irony of attacking Jah Prayzah is not lost on Mutamba is telling about his shortcomings as a biographer and as Tuku’s one-time publicist.

After all, on page 24 of his book he speaks well of how “Tuku and the Air Force of Zimbabwe were funding the construction of a classroom block as part of humanitarian work”.

It looks like Mutamba just wanted to bully Jah Prayzah.

Tuku, deliberately or unknowingly, has cultivated a reputation of being media shy when not on the stage.

Mtukudzi is the kind of musician who people want to know about. There is a lot of scrutiny, rumour-mongering and mythicism.

Mutamba, as part of the PR team, made sure Tuku was protected from the media.

While doing this for Tuku, he was hoarding the information that he would then package as a biography of sorts of the legend.

He gloats: “…people saw only a blissful marriage because the fights never reached the press. We managed Tuku and Daisy’s secrets perfectly”.

That “perfect” media management of the celebrity included when in 2011 he manhandled this writer as he tried to interview Tuku and Selmor (Mtukudzi’s daughter) in Harare.

Before that, Mutamba tried to manhandle The Sunday Mail’s Garikai Mazara and Mtandazo Dube during Sam Mtukudzi memorial service in 2010 at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton.

He even approached the same political offices he denigrates in his latest book to try and get The Sunday Mail gagged.

“Tuku Backstage Second Edition” does not offer value for money as many of the things he talks about are regurgitated from the first book.

And for the second time Mutamba dismally fails to tell the truth about Selby Mtukudzi.

Chapter 3, titled “Selby: The follow-up” only tells us how they went on a night out for drinks. Seriously?

There are some notable fresh details.

In chapter 2 Mutamba gives previously unknown finer details about the life of Sam and what was happening in the family around the time of his death.

Nothing else.

But you have to give it to Mutamba for knowing how to use language.

He writes well, even when he is writing about nothing, and that is how I managed to complete his book, albeit over a longer period than I normally take to complete such books.

He is a veteran journalist who once had access to Mtukudzi and young scribes could learn some writing techniques from Mutamba.

And that is just about it. – Sunday Mail