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EXCLUSIVE: “I’m lonely without Sam” – Mtukudzi

SUPERSTAR Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi last week revealed that he gets lonely and sometimes uses the stage as his only sanctuary.

Tuku, who lost his son Sam, in a horrific accident on this day five years ago (March 15, 2010), says all his other kids are “grown and gone” – leaving him and his wife Daisy alone.

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail Leisure at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton last week, Tuku said in Sam he had not only lost a son but a friend.

“When you lose one child you need more love and care to compensate. It does not eliminate the pain but it helps. Vazukuru ne vakuwasha – they say we are the reason for you to be alive, but all the same I get lonely. The kids are grown and gone – you have to beg them sometimes kuti chimbouyai kumba and so forth but yes, they are a comfort when they are around,” said Tuku.

“I’m lonely without Sam” – Mtukudzi
The celebrated artiste says although he misses his son – he has a way of dealing with his loss – a way of shielding himself from forever brooding about the death of Sam.

“My therapy is being on stage. When I’m on stage I feel that he is there with me, on my left side, because that is where he always stood when we performed together. That therapy helps me a lot, it heals me, it helps me carry on because I feel that I have not lost him, that he is still with me,” said Tuku.

Nzou ne Mhuru Mudanga…This sculpture by award-winning sculptor Dominic Benhura is a symbol of Tuku and Sam’s last performance together at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale on February 26, 2010.

The “Ronga Dondo” singer says he has also found solace in helping other young people with their music careers as it was a project which was closest to his son’s heart.

“I do not compensate my son’s loss by helping people, no. Taiita izvozvo zvekubatsira vanhu tese. Sam was the pioneer here at Pakare Paye, he taught most young people and I’m just carrying on with the project.

“I understand young people’s problems because I faced them as a young man, a young musician. When they come here asking for help, I know where they are coming from. Some of them may want to do the collaborations for the wrong reasons but because they humble themselves, I have to respect that knowing that I have an opportunity to teach them something.

Tuku opened up about the kind of relationship he had with his late son.

“He was more of a friend than a son. He would joke with me like I’m his friend and I felt very comfortable with it because I knew that the more friendly he was with me, the more I would be open with him whenever he went astray.

“I avoided being father and son with him because I wanted a more open relationship. These days as a father you are the sekuru and tete. So if your son becomes your friend, whatever problem he has you will know whether it’s social or work related. If your relationship is that of old school father and son, it would be difficult for him to open up,” said Tuku.

The superstar said he knew that the same way he blindsided his parents was the same way Sam would try to blindside him.

“I was lucky that I was his friend and thus I could tell him immediately that ‘shaa izvi zvauri kuita izvi hazviite takambozviitawo’ and we would solve our problems easily.

“Overall, what I can say is that my son was a wonderful person, he was not my son only, he was a nation’s son because he had relations with politicians, footballers, pastors, little kids – and they all called him a friend.

“I truly believe that God must be with him now, otherwise people would not have been so in love with him if he did not do what God wants.”

Today, the Mtukudzi family gathers to take some flowers to Sam’s grave – where they will share memories of the good and bad times they had with Sam.

“We try to remember the happy times, zvinhu zvaitinakidza ne zvaiti bhowa. At the end of the day – he is gone. But it’s always fresh everyday – the image we saw of him when we arrived from South Africa is still fresh in our mind. We pass through the accident scene two to three times a day and we are like ndopakaperera mwana apa.

“But we have to learn to live with it – hazvigadzirike, hazviite zvidhara (we can’t fix this and the memories do not fade).”

Tuku stands next to a metal sculpture of Sam playing his favourite instrument, the saxophone.

He added: “My wife and I try to celebrate the 21 years we were with him. He was a unique person.

“At his funeral, little kids of seven or eight right up to old men even older than me came saying Sam was our friend.

“People may say hundreds, maybe even thousands of people came to mourn Sam because he is Oliver’s son, but I believe it was because of the impact he had on people – he was his own man.

“Several pastors from different churches came saying he attended their churches. Our neighbours confessed only love from him.

“Kana zvigure zvakauya zvichipupura, yes, nyau dancers said he was a friend. As parents – we never know how long we have our kids, that is why I wrote ‘Ronga Dondo’.

“We had our plans, for instance, I would say I’m 60 and he is 21 so he is going to take over, but no one knows how long we have the people in our lives even though we wish it could be forever. When the kid is gone, like mine; that is when you feel it.”

Tuku, who says he would rather be buried at his rural home in Dande, says he buried Sam in Harare because that is where most of his friends, fans and family are.

“It was the easiest thing to do, both for us and his friends.”

Sam died together with his friend, Owen Chimhare, in a tragic accident along the Harare-Bulawayo road in the early hours of March 15, 2010. They were driving from Harare to their home in Norton.

His last performance with his father was on February 26, 2010 at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale in a concert dubbed: Nzou ne Mhuru Mudanga.

Sam announced his arrival on the music scene with the album “Rume Rimwe” in 2007 and was putting final touches to his second “Cheziya” when disaster struck. “Cheziya” was released posthumously in June 2010.

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