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10 Intriguing Facts about Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi You’ve Never Heard About

By Innocent Mushamba

Dr. Oliver Mtukudzi’s wisdom came with a simplicity that even children could comprehend.

He spoke a lot about self-discipline. You can hardly find an interview of his where he doesn’t talk about hunhu (discipline). More precisely, he often described it as kuva munhu pane vanhu (be well behaved around people). The literal translation for that is ‘to be a person among the people’.

I think you might have a better way of expressing that, so leave a comment below this article to help me out.

Quick Facts about Tuku

If you’ve watched the late Dr. Mtukudzi’s interviews on YouTube you might have heard him mention a heart-warming remark of his mother made to him.

It’s worth mentioning first in this list.

  1. His mother once told him, ‘You are a good singer but you will never surpass your birth cry. Your birth cry was so beautiful.’
  2. Samson Mtukudzi was given a real guitar by his employer as a gift and, ironically, he gave it to his son. That was Oliver’s first guitar.
  3. According to Jennifer Kyker’s book, Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe, Tuku’s father sang village songs with his friends as his son grew up. They played African drums and the guitar.
  4. The 1977 hit ‘Mutavara’ was written to motivate Zimbabweans to fight during the war. Mutavara was a member of the Tavara, descendants from a group of dynasties that once ruled the Zambezi Valley. In 1971 the armed struggle came to the Zambezi Valley with ZANLA Guerillas. The words ‘Rova ngoma Mutavara, sango rinopa waneta’ implied that the forest (metaphor for good fortune) would give to those who fought for freedom.
  5. “Yorire Ngoma” was written at a time of personal suffering (he thought he was about to die), and he wrote this song almost as a farewell song. He wanted to encourage fellow musicians to keep making music regardless of the challenges they were facing.
  6. When it came to casting calls for new band members, Tuku preferred character above talent. He was known for choosing band members based on their ability to cooperate with others, rather than their individual talent.
  7. Based on sales and signed contracts, Tuku was included in the Forbes list of the Top 10 most bankable artists in Africa.
  8. The award-winning soundtrack Neria was written in a single day. Oliver Mtukudzi received the script for the movie three days before the song was due. He sat down to read it on the third day and wrote the words to the song.
  9. The ‘Oliver cough’ was originally an error that the producers didn’t edit out. Mtukudzi coughed while recording a song. It blended in well and became a trademark for all his performances.
  10. Tuku’s first album Ndipeiwo Zano went gold. What you may not remember is that the price for each copy was $5 at the time.

Before you go…

Did you find something interesting you had no idea about in this blog post? Which one was your favorite and why? Did you have any more facts to share with us? If you enjoyed this article, leave a comment in the section below and share this post with friends on social media.

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