TAWANDA MARWIZI/TAURAI MANGUDHLA
The word unifier became the preferred description of the late national hero and music icon Oliver Mtukudzi who succumbed to heart failure last week at the age of 66. However, events at his fiveday funeral wake—from the time he passed on on Wednesday at Avenues Clinic until his burial Sunday in Madziva, Mashonaland Central—suggested Tuku’s attempts to be a unifier were futile as glaring differences among family and friends, fellow musicians and politicians emerged.
Tension was high as individuals and family, organisations and political parties tussled over control of events and the limelight.
On Thursday in Norton, leaders of the major political parties—President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu PF, MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and Joice Mujuru National People’s First—came to pay their condolences to the musician’s family.
While Chamisa and Mnangagwa were given time to make speeches, Mujuru could only get the ear of the media, describing Tuku as her brother after spending a while at the late Tuku’s house.
Although Chamisa and Mnangagwa did very well to limit their words to mourning the late icon and encouraging the deceased’s family, their political undertones filled their speeches.
“We don’t want politics here and people must respect the Tuku’s efforts to unify in vain government though it might not have been elected by the people,” Chamisa said adding those who feel they must be in power must also respect government.
Chamisa’s utterances were received with wild cheers and laughter given the context of the July elections which he lost to Mnangagwa. Chamisa lost a Constitutional Court case in which he challenged the election results.
Mourners sat knee deep in silence while President Mnangagwa delivered his speech only to break into laughter when he uttered his usual muka ubike doro chant largely seen as an attack on opposition to stop dreaming about ever getting into power.
The crowd further warmed up to Mnangagwa and cheered when he announced that Tuku had been conferred with national hero status and the government would cover all funeral expenses.
Mnangagwa said he was announcing the decision on behalf of every Zimbabwean including those who do not like him.While the presence of the political heavyweights and their large security including service chiefs made the environment tense, Tuku’s internal family politics also made its mark. On that same day Tuku’s first wife Melody Murape granted an interview to the media in which a lot of controversial details emerged.
Murape said she left the musician following his decision to marry a second wife, Daisy. She said they were deeply in love but they separated because of the ‘devil’ that invaded their family and had no kind words for Daisy.
Although she spent the day at the Tuku’s homestead, Murape said she had not met Daisy.
Murape’s interview painted Tuku as just another ordinary man who left his first love as soon as he started enjoying fame and success.
Later in the evening, family members had a heated argument on where the superstar would be buried.
Some of the relatives wanted him to be buried at the National Heroes Acre while others preferred to honour Tuku’s wish to be buried at his rural home in Madziva.
On Saturday at the National Sports Stadium the noble intention by promoters to bring several artistes to sing for Tuku backfired when some artistes who had been billed to perform failed to do so as promoters fought to give their preferred artistes prime slots on the programme.
Chamisa, who attempted to make a grand entry with his convoy, was denied entry. Musician Winky D, currently suffering public attacks from perceived Zanu PF supporters for his single Kasong kejecha, also failed to gain entry.
On stage, promoter Josh Hozheri blasted Andy Muridzo and Jah Prayzah for being ‘big headed’ though he could not clarify his statement. At his burial in Madziva the first wife Melody was not given time to speak.
Tuku’s first daughter, Sandra, announced her mother’s presence when they were introduced to the mourners.
Even the State-prepared obituary omitted Melody, as it presented Daisy as the first and only wife of the late music icon, with Selmor and Sandra being mentioned once, while pictures of Daisy’s children were plastered all over the national hero’s obituary.
She was following proceedings of the burial from a distance.
Daisy took the podium to announce that they were in love with Tuku. She then responded to Melody who had granted interviews to the media saying true love would not be published in newspapers.
“Our love was true not to publish in newspapers that we had true love, for us people could see,” she said.