Biography of Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi
Mtukudzi began performing in 1977 when he joined the Wagon Wheels, a band which also featured Thomas Mapfumo. Their single, “Dzandimomotera,” went gold and Tuku’s first album followed, which was also a major success. Mtukudzi is also a contributor to Mahube, Southern Africa’s ‘supergroup’.
With his husky voice, he has become the most recognized voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond. A member of Zimbabwe’s KoreKore tribe,Nzou Samanyanga as his totem, he sings in the nation’s dominant Shona language along with Ndebele and English. He also incorporates elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as “Tuku Music”. Mtukudzi has had a number of tours around the world. He has been on several tours in the UK, USA and Canada to perform for large audiences.
Unlike Mapfumo, Mtukudzi has refrained from directly criticizing the repressive government of President Robert Mugabe, perhaps because he still lives in the country. However, some of his most emotive hits prodded the aging authoritarian ruler, including “Ndakuvara,” which bemoans the political violence engineered by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and “Wasakara (You Are Getting Old),” which most Zimbabweans took as a direct plea for Mugabe to retire.
He is the father of five children and has two grandchildren, two of whom are also musicians. His son Sam Mtukudzi, a successful musician in his own right, died in a car accident in March 2010. Mtukudzi also has four sisters, and one brother, who died. He enjoys swimming in his guitar-shaped swimming pool, has released more than 40 albums and cannot remember the number of awards he has won.