The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Correspondent
IN the aftermath of legendary musician Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi’s death his daughter, songbird Selmor Mtukudzi, has said that she always felt that her father did not belong to just her or the Mtukudzi family but the legion of followers who have been pouring their hearts out from all over the world since the musician passed away on 23 January.
Tuku’s superstardom has been emphasised by the messages of love that he has received from around the globe after he succumbed to diabetes at the Avenues Clinic in Harare on that fateful day. He was subsequently bestowed with the honour of being a national hero, the first such distinction given to a professional musician in Zimbabwe.
It is this wide global appeal that has led his daughter to confess that her father never truly belonged to his illustrious famous only. In an interview with Sabc before Tuku’s memorial concert that was held in Johannesburg, a clearly heartbroken Selmor revealed that, because of his popularity and the strength of the message in his father’s message, Tuku’s fatherly duties went beyond his family.
“I said the other day that my father was not my own. He was loved throughout Africa and even the world over, especially the South Africa. I know South Africa would claim him to be theirs. I’m so grateful to be having that much love coming to our family at this time. It’s difficult, it’s still very soon (after his death) and very fresh but we’re hanging in there,” she said.
Selmor, who had a famous fall out with her father after she told the media that she felt that he did not support her enough, said growing up in the Mtukudzi household as a budding musician was a mind blowing experience, as she watched the master weave his magic firsthand. She also acknowledged the role he played in making music a worthwhile profession in Zimbabwe.
“It was beautiful. It was beautiful because I was in love with music as well so growing up watching him doing his thing, he took music very seriously. It was a job, a career for him. So I got to learn to make it (music) important because normally music is looked down upon where we come from, I think. (People say, Oh, it’s nothing really.) But he took it seriously and made the industry of music, especially in Zimbabwe, to take it seriously as well and I’m grateful to have had that experience with him,” she said.
However, she acknowledged that as a child she could not understand why her father was always away, but she had begun to accept it after she became a professional musician herself.
“Well, as kids you don’t really understand because you miss him so much. But growing up and then getting into the same industry myself I now understand that he had to do it, he had to work. Actually it’s how he took care of us as his children,” she said.
Near the turn of the century, Tuku’s guitar strings began to reach ears beyond the borders of Zimbabwe as he shifted his attention to the rest of the continent. One of the countries that had thrown its arms wide open to embrace Tuku was South Africa, a country that Selmor acknowledged helped a lot in the making of the legend of Oliver Mtukudzi.
“He was a great man. He loved his family, he loved his children dearly, all of us. And he loved his fans very much. He appreciated the support and he was grateful to have had this opportunity to tell his stories through music. I would like to say thank you. Thank you so much to South Africa. It played a big role in contributing to the man that he was,” she said.
Due to his music, with its timeless message, Selmor said she did not think that his legacy would be forgotten any time soon. His work, she said, was done.
“I think that’s the trick really. He did his work already and I don’t think people will forget him anytime soon. His music, like you said, was rich, it touches the heart and so once you do that people will never forget and I’m super proud to have him as a father,” she said.
As a way to honour him, Selmor said people should take the lessons he taught in his music and apply them to their own lives.
“Continue playing the music. Continue listening to the message in the music and translating it to your own lives. Don’t ever forget Oliver Mtukudzi,” she said.