By Sukuoluhle Ndlovu in Masvingo
Having shared the stage with the late Oliver Mutukudzi last year, Masvingo-based Afro-fusion musician Blessing Tendai Maramba says he learnt a lot from the music superstar.
Mtukudzi died at the Avenues Clinic in Harare on Januray 23. He was 66.
Maramba, who uncannily resembles the late superstar, told The Standard Style that Tuku inspired him mostly for what he represented as a global music icon.
“Dr Mtukudzi represented or rather stood up as a musical lighthouse, a beacon where we as musicians could navigate to and get an idea of where we were going,” Maramba said.
“He was a fatherly figure with inspiring humility, inspiring history and inspiring lyrics that gave hope, strength and unity to society and the world at large. People could relate to what he portrayed as an artiste. If such a man would not inspire me to be a better person, then I would not deserve to be counted among a society of the same.
“Well, to say the truth it was heartbreaking and may his soul rest in peace. The industry will never be the same without the industry’s ‘father’, but I would rather choose to be like him to be brave, take on the challenges we face and emulate him in coming out on top of the situation as a victor, take his humility, take his desire, take his hard work, and better the society that we live in, in the small ways we can.”
Maramba said Tuku was his mentor and his death robbed him and many other upcoming artistes of a great teacher.
“Mutukudzi was a mentor to everyone, every young artiste knew his door was always open and he was humble enough to grace even small workshops to help and encourage growing artistes. Yes, everybody willing to grow in the music lost a mentor,” he said.
Last year, Maramba performed alongside the music icon and for him it was one of the greatest highlights of his music career.
“We shared the stage with Dr Mtukudzi and it was both a very exciting and humbling opportunity for me,” Maramba said.
“It was an opportunity to learn, give myself a reality check and re-aligning myself to a better artiste. I could say somewhat it came a time when I was beginning to drift from my true self in an attempt to be a better artiste, but seeing him perform made me realise I could be myself and be so great. Thanks to the day we shared the stage I remain true to myself and the society I represent.”
The jazz musician said the death of Tuku left a void in the music industry.
“The music industry will never be the same again. After having a mountain dug off the village, the valleys will never be the same,” he said.
“No matter whatever happens, things will never be the same in the music industry. What we can have are ways to emulate and carry his legacy and vision forward.”
Maramba said he was determined to make a difference in music if there would be any gap left by the death of Tuku.
“Well, I do not know if there is a gap. However, if it means hardworking, resilient, humble and a cultured artiste, I am willing to be one and fill that gap,” said Maramba.
Popularly known by the stage name WeKwaMaramba, the Masvingo jazz crooner has since 2013 made a collection of 50 unrecorded songs from which he released eight singles and an album titled The Birth (Rukuvhute).
The musician relies on live performances where he plays cover versions and his music, especially in clubs in Masvingo and surrounding areas.