PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday described the late music superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi as a world-acclaimed musician who, however, remained patriotic to his country up to the time of his death last week.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
In a speech read on his behalf by Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, Mnangagwa told thousands of mourners at Tuku’s burial in rural Madziwa, in Mashonaland Central province, that the late music icon was a patriot par excellence and down to earth artiste, hence government’s decision to declare him a national hero.
“As we mourn his [Tuku] passing on, we should, at the same time celebrate the incomparable inheritance he left our nation by which he shall be remembered across generations and the world over,” he said.
“His classy and timeless music, comprising 66 albums which epitomised our identity, culture and values of hunhu/ubuntu, shall remain a shining beacon forever to both present and future generations.”
Mnangagwa said through his music, in pre-independence Rhodesia, Tuku criticised white minority oppression, continuing with his socio-musical commentary thread even after independence.
“Through song, Tuku had the boldness to question, ‘What is a hero?’ The nation and the world today answers his question. We loudly say Dr Oliver Mtukudzi is a hero. That is a hero. The late Dr Mtukudzi was an ambassador par excellence of Zimbabwe and, indeed, the Africa continent,” he said.
“He [Tuku] was one of the most recognised voices to emerge from Zimbabwe onto the international scene and earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond.”
Mnangagwa said although Tuku did not shy away from political commentary, he, however, managed to maintain his patriotism and love for his country.
“The late Tuku was a unifier, who saw no tribe, race or creed. His music transcended geographic boundaries, age and social classes. In spite of his immense success, Tuku managed to maintain an unassuming and humble, witty, often humorous personality, which was both sobering and inspiring,” he said
“He was hardworking, resilient and exhibited qualities beyond those of an artiste and musician. He entertained and united millions of people as well as branding and marketing our country as a safe and friendly destination of choice.”
Mnangagwa said Tuku made strides in preserving African cultural heritage by boldly expressing our national values and ethos through song.
“As we lay our national hero, Tuku, to rest, let us as a nation rededicate ourselves to use our gifting, calling, and the professions to advance and the development of a country. Let us equally desire to live our lives in a manner that impacts positively on humanity now and in the future,” he said.
“We should, therefore, take a leaf from this exemplary son of the soil. No matter where we go, what we achieve, let us like Tuku, never despise or seek to harm our motherland. We have only one country, one nation, one Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa said Tuku’s songs, such as Hatidi Hondo, must be a constant reminder for citizens to live in peace, love and unity. He said artistes and musicians’ role in nation-building, such as peace-building, teaching, rebuking and educating, should be never be taken lightly.
“I challenge other artistes to use music to drive and inspire our nation towards renewed self-belief and patriotism as we journey to modernise industries and grow our country,” he said.
Mnangagwa said the rebuilding of Zimbabwe under the Second Republic required the calibre and mould of people such as Tuku, who was the epitome of hunhu/ubuntu.
“His [Tuku] greatest gift to mankind, especially in Africa, was humility, courtesy, thoughtfulness and care which he pushed for in his career and conversation. These are qualities we should all uphold in our quest to modernise and transform our nation into a middle-income economy by 2030,” he said.
“Let us not drift from selflessness, be it our businesses, careers and religions, among others. We have a collective responsibility to develop and move the nation forward and rebuild our country, brick upon brick, stone upon stone.”
Tuku is survived by his wife Daisy, four children and two grandchildren.
Among the huge crowd of mourners were Zanu PF, MDC officials, diplomats and musicians, among them renowned South African musician Steve Dyer.