DIVISIONS continued to rock the family of the late national hero, Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, as several family members, including daughters Selmor and Sandra, snubbed the “sham” memorial held in Madziva, Mashonaland Central, yesterday.
There was tension in the run up to the memorial, with a number of family members saying they had been kept in the dark insofar the programme of the ceremony was concerned.
Sandra and Selmor, Tuku’s daughters with first wife Melody, were conspicuous by their absence as well as other important figures like aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces.
Sekuru Patrick, who was supposed to represent Tuku’s father since he is the last surviving member, was also a no-show, as was a representative of Tuku’s mother, who was only identified as Gogo Veli.
Tuku’s nephew, Kabila, as well as his out-of-wedlock son, Selby — who were spotted by this publication’s reporters in Harare on Friday night — also stayed away.
Sources close to the family said most family members decided not to pitch up in protest over the way Daisy, Tuku’s widow, had handled the memorial.
“The girls could have made it in the morning, but they were stopped by other family members. The issue is that Daisy did not follow protocol in informing the relevant people about the memorial.
“She and her children carried the deceased (Tuku)’s items on their own without informing the family. They slaughtered a cow on Wednesday without the other family members’ involvement. She wanted them to be passengers at their son’s, father’s or brother’s funeral. They refused,” said our source.
After the memorial, the family was set to gather and distribute Dr Mtukudzi’s personal belongings (kugova nhumbi), as is the cultural norm, but that process hung by a thread last night, with indications that it could not proceed without all the family representatives as dictated by tradition. A close family member, who refused to be named, warned that tempers could flare if Daisy “arrogantly” continued doing things her way.
“Things cannot continue like this. We need to sit and map a way forward. As we speak, this ceremony is a non-event, it’s a sham,” said the family member.
A nephew to Dr Mtukudzi, Victor Rukainga, who was a close friend as well as a confidante of the late national hero, said his uncle would never rest in peace as long as the family remained divided.
“If you were listening closely, the pastor touched on this issue. He quoted Tuku’s song in which he sang ‘kana ndefa deedzai vana vangu’,’ said Rukainga.
“We do not know why they did not come, the children as well as some of Tuku’s sisters and relatives. But this is not the way to handle things. If there are problems in the family, they should have a round-table and address the issues,” he added.
The event, which kicked off at 10.25am with the raising of the national flag at Dr Mtukudzi’s grave by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in honour of the late national hero, ended just after 1pm.
In her speech at the ceremony, Daisy equated herself to an elephant, saying naysayers were like barking puppies that cannot do anything to her.
In apparent reference to the divisions, she said what was happening had always been the case when her husband was alive and so nothing had changed.
“I will keep quiet. I will not tarnish my husband’s image after he was honoured by the country as a national hero and mourned by the whole world,” she said.
Sculptor Dominic Benhura and singer Bob Nyabinde spoke glowingly about Dr Mtukudzi and offered words of comfort to Daisy and the family. A representative from the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation also comforted the family and asked them to continue with the work Dr Mtukudzi started, especially at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton.
Throughout the event, Daisy and her daughter Samantha remained the closest relatives of Dr Mtukudzi in attendance.
Unlike at the funeral, where thousands thronged the National Sports Stadium, Tuku’s Norton home and his rural homestead in Madziva, attendance at the memorial was largely underwhelming.
A handful of cars were parked outside, while a marquee set up for hundreds had many empty chairs, with the majority of people at the event being members of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, the late Tuku’s church.