New book on Oliver Mtukudzi by Shepherd Mutamba has a chapter titled “Son(s)” which goes into the late Sam Mutkudzi’s life, music and eventual death at 21. The Sunday Mail has published a detailed excerpt of the chapter. We include here a few snippets:
Sam Mtukudzi’s humility
Although he was advantaged, having been born in a wealthy family, Sam never rode on the fame and success of his father and didn’t want to be judged as Tuku’s son. He was warm and down to earth and humble for a son of an icon and would use public buses and nobody would notice him.
Sam would tour the world capitals performing with Tuku and back home he easily played with the same zest for the most ordinary fans in dingy bars where drunkards vomit on the dance floor.
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Castle Larger was Sam’s favourite drink, and he smoked cigarettes but tried hard to hide that habit. I caught him once sharing weed with his band members backstage before the show.
I could bear with him because he was outgrowing the influence of teen life and maturing into adulthood to be a proper man, responsible and respectable.
Indiscipline in his Band, before and after Sam’s Death
The use of alcohol got out of hand in Sam’s band during the days when the group was managed by Ropa Viriri. She was seeing Sam, at the same time, and the office romance compromised things badly.
Indiscipline became quite an issue in the band. Some of the band members were actually hooked on alcohol and weed and got plastered so badly that they would time and again fail to play.
Tuku censured bad behaviour in Sam’s group, but gave up on at AY Band not long after Sam’s death, largely due to disciplinary issues. The band dissolved in 2011.
Martha Badza, who had assumed the lead vocals after Sam’s death, died from natural causes. Tatenda Kanjantu, the drummer, committed suicide. Sammy Tsatsi, the bassist, went to follow the Jesus Christ and never saw him again. Alastas Mushoriwa worked as a session musician playing keyboard and doing studio productions. Tawanda Ndoro rehabilitated into a responsible young man and joined Harare-based singer Alexio Kawara and Shades of Black as a guitarist.
Differences with his mother
Daisy loved her son but they had their own tense moments on certain issues that prompted Sam to leave the family home to stay at one of Tuku’s mansions across town in Norton.
Sam wanted to study in America where he had friends who had previously worked together with him on musical projects.
But Daisy wanted her boy to stay and prepare him for bigger things in the family empire; something Sam was not ready to do before he had seen the world and accomplished his studies overseas.
The mediator in the family
Even at the tender age of 21, Sam would mediate and bring his father and mother together when there was friction.
If Sam was alive today I bet the antagonism between his sisters Selmor and Sandra and Tuku would not have deteriorated to a point where a father and his daughters do not see eye to eye. And possibly Daisy would not be fighting Tuku and chasing him with a gun.
Communication of his death
Tuku and Daisy learnt about their son’s death from a stranger, on arrival at Harare International Airport (now Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport). A security guard, on duty in arrivals lounge, who had heard about the tragedy on radio news, greeted Tuku and extended condolences.
All along Tuku did not know that his son had died, but believed that he was only hurt.
He broke down as even more people at the airport came forward to console him. It was at that moment that point that it dawned upon him that his son was gone.