LEGENDARY musician and Zimbabwe’s foremost cultural ambassador, Oliver Mtukudzi, is to be honoured at a star-studded dinner to be held on November 29 at the four-star Thistle Marble Arch Hotel in central London, UK.
Organised by exclusive events specialists, Black Tie Management, the Tuku Tribute Dinner will celebrate the colourful musical career of the country’s most recognised and decorated artiste.
Invited VIP guests include friends of Tuku from Africa’s music royalty, including jazz legend Hugh Masekela, Ringo, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, the great Afrobeats legend Fela Kuti’s son Femi, Zimbabwe’s sungura maestro Alick Macheso, and the crown prince of Dendera music, Sulumani Chimbetu.
Adored by fans across Africa and beyond for his famously husky, soulful voice and jazzy acoustic guitar, Tuku has sold out concerts on global stages in Europe, America, Australia and beyond. He is the only African artiste to receive Italy’s equivalent to the British Knighthood, the prestigious Cavaliere of the Order of Merit.
Among his compatriots, Tuku holds the distinction of being the only artiste to be honoured as the country’s Cultural Ambassador. He is also the only Zimbabwean to hold the honour of being a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador.
“We are honoured to be hosting this special dinner for our very own cultural icon, a legendary artiste and down-to-earth man whose humility belies the outstanding achievements that he has earned over the course of his long and fruitful career,” Black Tie Management events director Rue Masiyanise said.
Famed for its classic art deco design and elegant style, the hotel provides the perfect setting for an intimate evening in honour of Zimbabwe’s most successful musician.
The Tuku Tribute Dinner is an exclusive event and organisers are releasing a limited number of tickets only at a discounted price of £75. Tickets can be purchased at www.tukutribute.com, and special offers are available for early birds.
“Doors will open at 6pm and guests will be treated to a red carpet photo-shoot, a drinks reception and a chance to chat with Tuku and his friends. A three-course dinner will be served, with complimentary wine and juice on each table,” added Masiyanise.
Following tribute performances from a select number of artistes, the highlight of the night will see the man himself, Tuku, take to the stage to give guests a taste of his very own music.
The event is expected to finish around midnight and guests will take away a special gift, signed by Tuku himself.
Masiyanise added that a week after the tribute dinner, Tuku would also lead a stellar cast of Zimbabwean musicians at a music concert to be held at a major venue in Leicester.
The tribute dinner comes in honour of Tuku’s long contribution to Zimbabwe’s music and culture and for his commitment to promoting social change through art.
Responding to the organisers’ invitation to the dinner, Tuku’s manager and drummer Sam Mataure said: “Samanyanga [Tuku’s totem] and the band are delighted to be honoured in this very special way, especially by our own fans.”
Mataure added that Tuku’s musical journey had been a long and rich one, which had included everyone from the remotest growth points of rural Zimbabwe all the way to the new Diaspora communities in Africa and overseas.
“We are all looking forward to travelling to London and meeting our friends and fans at the dinner.”
With the growth in numbers of the Zimbabwean Diaspora also came a growing sense of cultural alienation as life in exile took its toll on the emigrant community; and from the outset, Tuku acted as a cultural Florence Nightingale, doing the ward rounds across the Zimbabwean Diaspora and nursing their weeping wounds of nostalgia for home with song and dance.
He has empathised with Diasporans over the painful realities of life away from home and brought into mainstream society a new perspective of life abroad that challenged the conventional view at home that it was all easy and all rosy, especially for those that had migrated to Western countries.
“Hakuna akaziva Marimuka idikita [No one knew that life in the Diaspora was hard work and sweat],” Tuku sings on Izere Mhepo, a track that laments the tough and often unrewarding life of many in the Diaspora.
Guests will sit down to a sumptuous three-course meal plus an assortment of beverages and also enjoy a live performance of Tuku’s classic songs by a stellar cast of Zimbabwean artistes in the UK.
The highlight of the night will see the husky-voiced Tuku, armed with his beloved acoustic guitar, take to the stage alongside members of his band to give guests a taste of his own music.
One of his greatest achievements to date is also among his most personal: in recent years he has set up the Pakare Paye Arts Centre in his adopted hometown of Norton, which helps upcoming artistes develop in their chosen art at no charge.
“It is against this backdrop that we believe that this is something to celebrate and we would like to say a big thank you and honour Dr Mtukudzi for consistently keeping Zimbabwe on the international music scene and continuing to fly the Zimbabwean flag high always,” Masiyanise said.
The organisers are currently offering a limited early bird discount of £60 per ticket for the first batch of buyers; thereafter tickets will revert to the full price of £75. Tickets plus further information about the tribute dinner can be found on www.tukutribute.com.