Calvin Mtukudzi: A king in the making

Steve Ephraem

Calvin “Tuku Shaaa” Mtukudzi

SUNDAY, December 25, 2022 begins as any other day in Chimanimani. The suns rises slowly above the Mawenje and Chimanimani mountains.

It’s now 0702hrs. I get out of my little kingdom and head for Mai Tawa’s Eating House to book a heavy breakfast for two. That’s when Baba Tawa informs me that he has all other ingredients except bread.

I excuse myself in disbelief and head for Chimanimani Garage. There, Nokuthula, the shop keeper tells me similar story. I move shop after shop receiving the same excuse.

Finally, I am convinced that Baba Tawa and Nokuthula were very right, Chimanimani Village was dry of bread.

I am at loss of words. With the advent of bakeries bringing bread to shops’ doorsteps, I last heard of a place running out of bread decades ago. I didn’t know that during the festive season, people of Chimanimani would empty bread shelves the way they did.

I quickly make a phone call to our guest who was booked at Chimanimani Hotel to inform him of the situation on the ground. Chimanimani Hotel had donated a free night to the guest on 24 December 2022.

Mukoma munonetsekereiko, ini ndinongodya chiripo chacho kana zve tea zvaramba.’ (Brother, don’t trouble yourself, if we can’t have tea, I can consume what is available).

I rush back to Mai Tawa’s Eating House and order a new menu. After thirty minutes, I collect our guest from the hotel. I take his travelling bag and askes him to carry his guitar in case of emergency. We laugh at my suggestion. He is none other than Calvin “Tuku Shaa” Mtukudzi.

Calvin Mtukudzi on stage

Fast forward to 1100hrs.

Chimanimani Arts Festival Trust Centre is full of people. They are waiting for Tuku Shaa’s Family Show to begin since it’s just an hour away. Chimanimani Arts Festival Band is the one which is going to play instruments for all artists performing at the show.

Fans of all ages are packed in the hall. It’s the kids who spice up the venue chasing each other.

By this time, we are busy trying to get hold of Allain Tsarara who hails from Machongwe and once played lead guitar for Calvin the time he recorded his second album titled Tuku Shaa. Tsarara is nowhere to be found. Calvin winds it up: “Mukoma handei ndinoridza.” (Brother, let’s go so that I perform).

Cuthbert Mtisi curtain raises for Tuku Shaa

It’s now 12 noon. Cuthbert Mtisi is the one to curtain raise for Tuku Shaaa. He belts his jazz music which is in its own class as he plays his acoustic guitar. The guy doesn’t embarrass at all and proves to everyone that he knows why he came on stage.

After an hour or so of Mtisi music, our event directors who are none other than Chimanimani FM’s DJ Vince and superstar DJ Sweet P drive the revelers to the mood of Tuku Shaa Music. The announcement by DJ Sweet P that Calvin is taking up stage sends the hall into frenzy.

What follows is memorable. Calvin Mtukudzi is master of stage. He changes from his soft form offstage and becomes a versatile being on stage. His acoustic guitar prowess is beyond what everyone was expecting.

Tuku Shaaa had arrived in Chimanimani the previous day complaining of foot pains and was having walking difficulties. He even held rehearsals the previous night sitting on a chair. But the moment he begins performing to the Chimanimani folk, wherever the pain went, I don’t know.
He does his dancing antics while playing the guitar as well as without the instrument.

This woos fans that they end up invading the stage to join Tuku Shaa in dance. He doesn’t mind about order as he continues singing and dancing. Calvin gives his heart out to the Chimanimani fans.

The killer punch that Calvin gives is that he is not hiding behind Oliver Mtukudzi’s songs, but is belting his own stuff which is full of creativity. At 1630hrs, the family show ends.

There is a new test for Tuku Shaa’s character. Fans swarm around him craving for selfies and photo shoots. He pauses with every individual or group of fans who asks for photos with him.

I become a bit jealous of the time the photo thing is taking since we wanted to have an after show meeting with Tuku Shaa and Chimanimani Arts Festival team. This only happens after 1900hrs.

We chat our way forward and Tuku is actually happy with the response which he got from Chimanimani sponsors and fans. After the meeting, we head to Kweza Lodge where Tuku has been donated a free night lodging.

Tuku Shaa pauses with Chimanimani FM personnel

We spent the night planning ahead and only go for sleep after 0200hrs. He repeatedly asks me, “Mukoma zvabuda zvakanaka here negumbo rangu randivhiringidzira basa?” (Brother, did my show live to its billing owing to my legs pain challenges.) I assure him that those who were not aware of the foot challenge did not even know that he was in pain.

Tuku keeps reminding the Business Wave Africa management team to officially appreciate the businesses that made Tuku Shaa Family Show happen in Chimanimani. These include Chimanimani Leisure Guest Lodge, Herentals Group of Colleges and Schools Chipinge, Chimanimani Arts Festival Trust, Kweza Lodge, Chimanimani FM, Business Wave Africa and Chimanimani Hotel.

Individuals who contributed to the success of show include Super Mikela Mike Chimwero, Mr Themba Gata, Chipo Masarirambi, Kuzivakwashe Nheweyembwa, DJ Sweet P and Tarisai Marumba.

If what Calvin “Tuku Shaa” Mtukudzi did in Chimanimani is the least of what is capable of doing, then there is no doubt that he a musical king in the making. As we speak, Chimanimani is Tuku Shaa and Calvin is Chimanimani’s man of the moment.

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