Tuku biography sparks mixed feelings . . . Backstage Or Backstab? The late Oliver Mtukudzi

Robert Mukondiwa
Shepherd Mutamba is a dog. A barking dog. At least so says Oliver Mtukudzi’s publicist Walter Wanyanya, in response to the hype around the issue of the second edition of the Oliver Mtukudzi exposé “Tuku: Backstage”.

The journalist and former publicist for arguably one of the biggest artistes outside of Zimbabwe has an often less than flattering relaying of events around Oliver Mtukudzi and his private life that he chronicles at will and often vividly.

That supposed “snarling” is what has made Wanyaya equate his words to those of canine action.

For the record, Mutamba lives in a house and has never been seen anywhere near a dog kennel. It is therefore highly unlikely that he indeed is a dog.

But he is in the dog family from what he has done by creating this second edition. He has become the uncomfortable cousin of the dog, the world. One that stands atop the hill, howls and exposes people for whom they are on a moonlit night. And for that he is making few friends.

Yet others repeat the age old supposition that perhaps this is all sour grapes from a man who left supposedly with Tuku as the music god is known, having owed Shepherd and many other employees back salary while they saw him allegedly live in the lap of luxury.

To be fair to Tuku, not every luxurious thing gotten by a superstar is bought by money with a lot of companies handing over beautiful luxuries and trinkets as endorsements and Oliver has no obligation to declare all these to his wife never mind band members.

Yet in a bad economy, it was always fair possibility that a lot of companies were always going to cough in their endeavour to pay their workers.

Shepherd Mutamba

The book paints a picture of a Tuku who is not only evil to his workers but also a sort of ogre. But that is entirely the views and perceptions of a man rather than wholesale observation. Many have encountered Oliver and have loved the man with the voice that sounds like gravel when he speaks and broken glass when he sings. A unique voice he has manipulated to become one of the biggest musical phenomenon that the world has ever known.

Someone who has made coal dark skin sexy and sophisticated and made a voice that others would find terrible to cry with and transformed it into a voice that the gods are likely to use. Tuku is like democracy.

It means different things to different people and Shepherd has his own interpretation of what Tuku means to him.

However, the world is up in arms against him not because of revelations and shocking ones at that, have already been exposed in the first edition, but because after having hinted that the first edition was good enough, the webosphere was asking why Shepherd had to repeat his act.

In fact others are thinking he made a concoction of sour grapes that he forced Tuku to drink in the first edition which Tuku, to Mutamba’s dismay, decided to drink happily, without contorting his face, and seemed to enjoy.

Shepherd hoped tears would come from Oliver’s eyes after he drank the sour grapes’ juice but in typical Tuku style, the star made it appear that he wasn’t hurt.

Sticks and stones will break my bones, Tuku seemed to say, but words will not do me any harm.

This has led to speculation that the book was not a work of biography, not an exposé from the BACKSTAGE but rather BACKSTAB.

The section in which Jah Prayzah is called a Gukurahundi ambassador because he is the brand ambassador for the Zimbabwe National Army is pretty kindergarten. Which suggests everyone who backed the ZNA during Operation Restore Legacy would in turn be supporting the ‘Gukurahundi Army’ by Mutamba’s logic.

It is sad at best and pretty inflammatory and mischievous at worst.

Unnecessarily hateful of Jah Prayzah in how imaginary lines are dotted together to reach a conclusion on Jah Prayzah. The dots that are being joined together are more imaginary than the equatorial lines no doubt. It is certainly a needless foray by the writer.

Certainly there was an absolute need for the first book to come out. A person of Tuku’s artistic magnitude has to have his life’s story told.

That Tuku did not sit down to pen his own story in the first place is what made Mutamba’s story relevant and much needed.

Yet the second edition, which Mutamba had hinted would be dropped, is unnecessary overkill that would suggest a sinister agenda.

We certainly need stories to be written. The first book was a much needed story. The second edition, well, perhaps there is something deeper that we all cannot see or put a finger to on our part as pure readers and mere mortals!

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