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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 paternity.

“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 creativity.

“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 known.”

“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 music.”

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 author.

“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.”

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