“My uncle loved traditional food, especially sadza rezviyo with beef stew. When we were at home or Pakare Paye (Arts Centre), even during rehearsals, he would not miss his favourite food. If we were away, like in Mozambique, Cape Town or Durban, he liked to eat fish and other sea foods.”
These were the words of Walter Wanyanya, the last manager to handle the affairs of the late Dr Oliver Mtukudzi.
They were not only bound by professional obligations, but family ties strengthened their interaction.
Not many people knew the actual relationship between the late Tuku and Wanyanya, as they would often call each other “sekuru” and “muzukuru”.
Tuku was his manager’s uncle through marriage.
“My mother’s uncle married in the Tuku family, literally, he was my uncle by marriage,” said Wanyanya.
In an interview with The Herald Arts and Culture, Wanyanya shared his experiences with the late great musician who passed away on January 23 last year.
He said he started working with Tuku many years before becoming his manager.
“I do not remember the first time I met the late Dr Tuku because I was very young,” said Wanyanya. “He was part of the family and for the record, before I became his full-time manager, I was part of his team doing various things here and there.
“The transition was seamless because I was already working with him for many years. I worked with him as manager for three years and was taught the business of music and life lessons.”
Wanyanya said during his tenure, they covered a lot as planned and Tuku was passionate about working with young artists.
“We covered a lot of work over that period we worked together,” he said. “We worked closely on his last album, which has done incredibly well all over the world. We also have some projects that are coming soon, which he had finished working on before he died”.
“Through him I got an opportunity to travel and even produce a lot of his live shows in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Ethiopia and Rwanda, among other countries.
“Working with The Black Spirits was incredibly humbling because the band had very young musicians who were identified by the late Tuku and all of them were groomed at Pakare Paye Arts centre. At first I wondered why he had chosen these particular young musicians, but as I worked with them off stage I began to see that it was about their skills, potential and greatness,” said Wanyanya.
He said Tuku’s last days were full of joy and celebrations.
“We had a lot of family members around him and I remember in 2018, Christmas time was really good for me because I saw the power and strength of the man,” said Wanyanya.
“He was happy with me and with what he had set out to do in life.
“He spent the last two months of his life bonding with his close family members. I could write a whole book of lessons that I have learnt from him.”
Asked if there were any celebrations planned for the first anniversary of the legendary musician’s death, Wanyanya said he will make updates on the issue soon.