BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
THE Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation ministry in partnership with National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, among others, will host a free music concert in honour of the late national hero, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, on February 16 at the Glamis Arena in Harare.
The show would be the second such after several music prompters joined hands for a resounding Tuku send-off concert held at the National Sports Stadium before the music icon’s burial in his rural Madziwa home in Mashonaland Central province.
On the international stage, another memorial concert was hosted on Tuesday at The Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein, South Africa that featured Tuku’s daughter Selmor alongside Mbeu and his Mhodzi Tribe.
In a statement, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Thokozile Chitepo, said the proposed Harare show themed Tuku Peace Memorial Concert would feature both local and international artistes who used to collaborate with Tuku.
“The concert is our nation’s befitting honour and tribute being paid to the selfless life of Dr Oliver Dairai ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi, our Pan-Africanist, our cultural hero and national icon, our unifier and peace-maker par excellence,” she said.
“Local and international artistes who collaborated with Dr Oliver Dairai‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi are billed to perform. Entrance is absolutely free and gates will open from 1000hrs. Let us come in our numbers, as family and friends from the four corners of our nation and beyond, to honour and celebrate the life and legacy that Dr Oliver Dairai ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi left us.”
Chitepo said through his music, Mtukudzi embodied Zimbabwean values of Unhu/Ubuntu.
“His (Mtukudzi) vision for peace, which he spread through his music and dance, transcends the boundaries of gender, generations and nations; it knows no colour or creed. He championed, exuded, lived and left us a culture of peace,” she said.
Entertainment Republic promoter Max “Nana” Mugaba said; “Tuku’s tribute concert by the government is a welcome move as it will provide a platform for those who are usually marginalised at commercial concerts.”
While some may argue that the concert was coming a bit late, given that South Africa had already organised a similar event, other local creatives have, however, applauded the idea to commemorate the life of the late music superstar.
Chairperson and founder of the Zimbabwe Network for Economic and Social Transformation (Zinest) Takemore Mazuruse said Tuku was an entertainer par excellence whose life and contribution to local arts and nation building must be celebrated.
“Beyond the national hero conferment, there is no befitting honour than to celebrate the life of this luminary and international icon through song and dance. Coming at a time the nation has experienced some regrettable internal turmoil, this celebratory concert is also a good way to promote peace and unity amongst our people, just like the unifier that Tuku was,” he said.
Mazuruse said the concert should not be a platform to grandstand, but to give a befitting send-off to a man who gave his life to the service of all.
“It is our hope that the organisers handle the programme well so that all deserving artistes get a spot. We don’t want a repeat of the avoidable bleeps and blunders that were recorded at that previous send-off event at the National Sports Stadium,” he said.
Jibilika Dance Trust founder and arts promoter Plot Mhako said the scheduled concert points to a positive shift by both government and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.
“This is a positive move befitting of Tuku’s legacy, considering that they are also bringing local and some foreign artistes that worked with the legend for this show,” he said.
“My only worry is that the venue may be too small and most likely gets oversubscribed. They must put in place sufficient security and crowd management plans.”
An arts critic, Benjamin Nyandoro, said the concert should carry a very clear narrative that is shared among the public.
“The motivation to participate and attend must go beyond the entertainment on stage. I hope government and the National Arts Council look beyond a just once-off opportunity,” he said.
With 66 albums to his name, Tuku developed his own brand of Afro-jazz that became known as Tuku Music, a fine blend of jit, katekwe, marimba, South African mbaqanga and Afro-pop.