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The Standard September 14 to 20 2014 9

The making of Tuku Backstage

TUKU Backstage, to be published

before the end of the year, cross

pollinates several genres; biography,

criticism and photography

steeped in the music and life of

Oliver Mtukudzi, aka Tuku.

The book, also recollects some of the author’s

own memoirs from life and work experience.

“From where I stood as Tuku’s long-serving

publicist, the book inevitably finds itself

criticising the man and his character.

I frankly articulate my thoughts about

Tuku’s contradicting personality but I also

pay very special attention and tribute to

his honest music. I devoted many different

chapters to his art and creativity,” said Mutamba.

“People love Tuku’s music, especially

the different ways that the music touches

our hearts. But if fans have the opportunity

they would also love to read

about the inner personality behind the

great music. And so the book unravels

Tuku’s life and secrets, his failed first

marriage, relationships, the fights with

his wife Daisy and the squabbles with

his daughters, including the question of

the alleged love-child, a son called Selby

and a daughter born outside wedlock,

Sybil, for whom he eventually admitted


“But the book also covers Tuku’s philanthropic

work and his humble beginnings

in life and in music, plus the evolution

of the music and its significance

and relevance in traditional and contemporary

cultures. I write about his

days, as a young boy, in the rural areas

where he was helped to shape some of

his perspectives about life and the melodies

that we now know as Tuku Music.

Over 20 chapters are devoted to Tuku’s

many different aspects of his music and


“In other words, one gets, from the

book, a view of what is held back about

Tuku and discusses what is rarely conversed

about his great music. That is why

I titled the book, Tuku Backstage, because

it explores issues tucked away behind

the scenes and beyond what is ordinarily


The book traverses through the 1970s,

1980s and 1990s to this day. People look at

Tuku for his music, they also look at him

for his moral and ethical values as an

icon. Does he personify his didactic music?

Does he have to? Tuku Backstage converses

with the man’s dreams, successes,

adversities but also his moral and ethical

challenges, the relevance of his music in

diverse cultures, education, politics, spiritualism

and social cohesion,” said Mutamba.

The book features 200 exclusive pictures

shot by the author, exploding with Tuku’s

untold emotion on and off stage and giving

readers a rare glimpse into his intensely

private life.

“Pictures are vital in the narrative of

Tuku’s music and life. In other words,

photography reinforces the book substantially.

What my pen missed, photography

captured far more accurately and

honestly than words. I photographed all

the pictures in the book in Zimbabwe and

away seeing things through my own eyes.

Photography stimulated my thoughts, complementing

the trajectory of my writing

with fulfilling perspective, relevance and

presentation. I attempted to use photography

to memorialise Tuku at the level of his


Mutamba said it was not easy writing

because some of the people, close to

Tuku’s early years and work and would

have reinforced the book, did not want to

talk. Some who spoke did not inspire the


“But that did not stop the book because

Tuku himself said I should write. I spent

two years on research, interviews, photography

and of course listening to his

music day and night. Three years went

into drafting, writing, editing and production.”

Tuku on stage.

Picture: Shepherd


Shepherd Mutamba . . . authored Tuku Backstage

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