Who will inherit Tuku’s vast empire?

Main picture, Dr Mtukudzi’s four daughters (from left) Sibyl, Selmor, Samantha and Sandra. (Insets) Daisy and Selby

A wife, four daughters with three different mothers, an unrecognised son with a birth certificate, and a rebutted daughter who made headlines seeking to be recognised.

That sums up people with a direct interest in the vast estate of the late music legend, Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, who was laid to rest at his Madziva homestead last Sunday.

Besides properties in Harare and Johannesburg — the late music icon’s biggest asset is his rich music catalogue.

Tuku owned the rights to all of his music — over 60 albums. He entered into partnerships with record labels for publishing, distribution and marketing. Shops in South Africa are said to have run out of Tuku’s music and worldwide song downloads quadrupled when news of his death got out. That is money flowing into Tuku’s estate right now.

Royalties from Tuku’s music are ahuge revenue stream that whoever inherits the empire will earn for a long time. His music brings royalties from all over the world to the extent that in 2016, the Southern African Music Rights Association (SAMRO) felt compelled to appreciate Dr Mtukudzi through an award called the “Breaking Through the Borders Award”.

This was in recognition of Tuku’s music being listened to in all corners of the world. Like the Chimbetu brand, which has seen various sons of different Chimbetu brothers living off it — Tuku’s brand is even bigger.

Whoever becomes the face of the name and the music, is set to reap enormous rewards as Tuku’s brand is worldwide, having been recognised by governments; from the prestigious Cavaliere of the Order of Merit Award by the Italian government to the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture, which recognised him for his “Outstanding Life Long Contribution to the South African Music Industry”.

He was a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, a Reel Award Winner for Best African Language, received a KORA award for Best African Male Artiste & Life Time Achievement, is the Cultural Ambassador courtesy of Project Concern International, and was accorded a Life Time Achievement Award by NTM Global Promotions (Canada) to name just a few. The brand is gigantic.

Observers say since taking over as wife number one, Daisy, Dr Mtukudzi’s second wife has been positioning herself and her children. It is understood that she started by dislodging Melody, the first wife in the early 1980s. She is then said to have slowly dismantled the power of everyone who was close to her husband. But the climax was a few years ago when she got rid of Sam Mataure who had managed Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits since taking over from Debbie Metcalfe in 2007.

Before Mataure’s eventual departure, influential band members, the likes of Never Mpofu, Picky Kasamba, Namatai Mubariki, Charles Chipanga and Enoch Piroro among others, had been chopped off. After Mataure left, Daisy was effectively in control of the band and its finances.

Music promoters, who had for years worked with Mtukudzi were next. Close associates say most of them were side-lined, especially after the Tuku @ 60 gig in which they were suspected of having “made a killing” while Tuku himself got peanuts.

Some said getting to do deals with Tuku by music promoters became increasingly difficult. Daisy and her children are said to have started organising events like Tuku’s birthday, anniversaries and so forth — with fears that power was slowly being consolidated in one person, Daisy.

At Tuku’s last album launch at Pakare Paye Arts Centre, Daisy was in total control. She refused some promoters entry. And in a conversation with this writer, she accused them of causing chaos at the gates as they wanted to “continue stealing” from her husband. Together with her security, she helped keep bouncers that wanted to get in for free outside, she even hurt her hand in the squabbles.

All dinners, which previously had been handled by outsiders became family affairs.  One last person with institutional memory to challenge even her, Watson Chidzomba, the manager of Pakare Paye Arts Centre finally fell victim to Daisy’s ambition.

On September 12 2018, she finally got rid of him — making herself the undisputed centre of power, the queen, the matriarch of the family as Mtukudzi’s health continued to deteriorate.

Her daughter with Mtukudzi, Samantha, who had long returned from her base in South Africa was roped into the Black Spirits. She began to travel with the superstar as a backing vocalist.

Her oldest daughter, sired before she met Mtukudzi, Faith Kadzura, who previously sold music CDs and other Tuku Music merchandise, took over the running of Pakare Paye Arts Centre. Today — Daisy and her two daughters run the multi-million dollar enterprise, which boasts restaurants, boutiques, recording studios, extensive gardens suitable for weddings and outdoor activities, health spars, hair saloon, conferencing facilities, auditoriums and five-star accommodation.

The stone and metal sculptures dotted around Pakare Paye Arts Centre could rake in millions if auctioned properly with international bidders taking part. The memorabilia — which includes photographs that the superstar himself took, a fashion collection from around the world, guitars and many other materials, would be worth hundreds of thousands of United States dollars.

Many say it would not be surprising if Daisy or her daughter Samantha, with their little experience in music, attempt to run the Black Spirits. Daisy had a stint in the studio and on stage with Tuku while Samantha toured with her dad in his last days. This could have been preparation for the demise of the superstar.

However, the matriarch is spooked. Mtukudzi is said to have left a secret will. A source who declined to be named said, “Mdhara (Mtukudzi) saw the debacle over Brenda Fassie’s Estate and others especially in South Africa, he said he did not want that happening to him.

“So he began to make plans a long time ago. He was helped by South Africans. There could be a shocker awaiting everyone.”

If rumours of the existence of a will have frightened the iron-lady, then the world’s willingness to accept Selmor, Mtukudzi’s talented daughter, as a natural inheritor of the internationally acclaimed Tuku brand, would cause her sleepless nights. Speaking to this publication in Madziva, understandably, Daisy said it was too early to discuss anything as she is still grieving.

It appears that just as in his dramatic life, as painted by author and Tuku’s former publicist, Shepherd Mutamba, drama is set to follow Oliver Mtukudzi to his grave, as already seen at his funeral, where Doves and Nyaradzo fought over his body.


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