Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Correspondent
WHILE around the globe many look at him as a source of awe and inspiration, Oliver Mtukudzi says he was not always looked at in glorious light, as even his own parents did not support his career path when he took his initial baby steps towards international superstardom.
In the past Tuku, who still regards his parents as his greatest inspiration in music, has alluded to the fact that he was born in a musical family with parents who met during a choir competition.
The two would go on to hold face-offs at home, competing against each other as Tuku and siblings watched. In fact, one of Tuku’s childhood regrets was his failure to watch his father live in action, as he was not allowed into the beer halls where his old man performed.
Even though he was a seed that sprouted from such a rich musical tree, the man who says he first performed for his parents at the ripe young age of 10 did not have their blessings when he first made the plunge and decided that music would be his career of choice.
“They didn’t support me in who I am. They loved me so much that they wanted the best for me. But what’s the best?” he said.
The man who got awarded an honorary doctorate by The International Institute of Philanthropy (IIP), said that his parents had initially wanted him to put away the guitar and instead excel somewhere in higher education. To their disappointment, Tuku’s itch to become a musician could only be scratched by setting foot on stage.
“They wanted me to become an academic genius. They wanted me to go to university and become either a lawyer or a doctor.
They didn’t care what, as long as I was doing something (academically),” he said.
Tuku, who confessed that he used to go barefoot to school, said that his parents expected a life of poverty for him if he chose a career in music. After all, they had barely made a cent when they were performing artistes themselves.
“They didn’t make money out of it. So he loved me so much that he didn’t want me to follow his footsteps. This was because there was no money in it. So I was kind of in a difficult situation than any other artiste because they knew exactly what I was getting myself into,” he said.
According to Tuku, his father had seen the hardships that await a music performer when he was traveling the nightspots and beer halls of Bulawayo, where he usually played with groups such the Cool Fours.
“My father was a musician. He used to come here and perform with the Cool Fours. Initially they were called the Cool Fours and then they joined up with the Crooners and became the Cool Crooners. My father used to come here (Bulawayo) and play alongside Safirio Madzikatire. He never thought he could have a son who could be doing the same thing,” he said.
The Mtukudzis’ romance would not end with veteran musician’s father. Years later, Tuku would make the trek to the home of Bulawayo arts, Amakhosi. There at the centre that was still under Cont Mhlanga’s astute leadership, he got the idea to start a similar centre of his own in Norton.
The centre would give Tuku a chance to atone for his parents’ own lack of support, as he could now take under his wing young artistes that had been given the cold shoulder by parents who did not approve of their chosen careers.
“Pakare Paye came about when we were trying to solve a problem that we’ve always had as artistes. This is a problem of attitude, especially from our own parents. They don’t believe in who we are. They want us to be who they want us to be,” he said.
Staying true to one’s identity, something that benefited him immensely in his own career, remained Tuku’s main focus.
“So they ignore who we are. So at Pakare Paye all I offer young talent is appreciation because they don’t get that appreciation at home. So at least there’s a place where they can showcase whatever they want to do and get appreciated.