Oliver Mtukudzi during a tribute ceremony for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the State Theatre in Pretoria. Bongani Shilulbane AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

Oliver Mthukudzi was one of the artists enlisted to perform at the 20th annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF).

The music legend, unfortunately, passed on two months ago and to honour his name, legacy and work, CTIJF will stage a commemorative tribute, billed as Tuku Music - A Celebration of Oliver Mtukudzi’s Life through his Music, and will feature artists such as Vusi Mahlasela, who was due to perform with the late star, and will be joined by Mbeu, Maduvha and Berita. 

Each of these artists has a story to tell about the late legend, Berita having had shared a stage with Mthukudzi occasionally and featured him on Mwana Wa Mai, alongside Hugh Masekela. For some, like Mbeu and Mhlasela, the connection was deeper. 

Mbeu was mentored by Mthukuzi himself and said his teachings have become his own personal recipe book.

"l can say that majority of my musical beliefs, visions and ideas are from Dr Oliver Mtukudzi - a man l can authoritatively declare was a moving music encyclopedia," he said.

"To Zimbabwe, Dr Oliver Mtukudzi is a testimony that music is indeed a very important part of our lives as his music has managed to unite us from all races and walks of life. To the music industry, he again is a testimony that this is a proper industry as he has managed to achieve a lot even materialistically. He has served as a motivation that music is work, music is employment and that music is a business," he adds.

The singer, guitarist and mbira player who is mostly known for his famous song Mavanga, says that Tuku's music still lives on in Zimbabwe and across the world as it is music that was made ahead of time. Musicians across Zimbabwe continue to study and trying to understand how he travelled and his work ethic, amongst other things, he said. 

"Being part of the commemorative tribute is the greatest honour any artist would want to have nor to be associated with as we are talking about a man who made such a huge impact in the world.

"My objective is to showcase the work Dr. Mtukudzi was doing to many other young artists at Pakare Paye, through myself. I intend to make the world appreciate him more, l am the vehicle to achieve that," he said. 

The 26-year-old artist was groomed at Oliver’s arts development centre called Pakare Paye Arts Centre, established in the year 2004 and is located in the small and serene town of Norton. His dream is to produce music that will live through time and can be related to by people from across borders, saying, "l need to also inspire other young creatives to take up music as a profession and business."

"The legacy that Dr Mtukudzi has left is a book from which we can all read from to learn more about life through the music he produced," he said. 

Vusi Mhlasela expressed great grief at the loss of such a star, saying he lost a comrade and brother. Mahlasela, who has travelled and shared stages with Mthukudzi, said the pair was also in talks of working on collaborations together and have him feature on his album that will be released next month titled Shebeen Queen, a tribute to his grandmother who was the first shebeen queen in Mamelodi. This tribute for him will be a bittersweet moment. 

"I’ve been asked to sing two songs for the jazz festival and I think I need to honour and respect him that way. 

"I think the world needs to be reminded how great people like dr Oliver Mthukudzi were. If they didn’t understand the language in some way, this is the time where we need to go deeper into trying to understand those songs, because you can find a lot of significant things that can affect society positively. And getting to now perform these songs in a much more deeper place of educating society is the greatest honour," he said. 

The Jazz will also have artists such as Jonathan Butler, Gipsy Kings featuring Nicolas Reyes as well as Tonino Baliardo (France) and many other local and international stars. The festival will take place on the 29 and 30 March 2019 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

IOL
@AmandaMaliba