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Mtukudzi “fails to overturn bad decisions” – Tuku Backstage: Part II

By Shepherd Mutamba

HARARE – Tuku is not efficient in overseeing and providing astute business leadership at his band as corroborated by Eric Kasamba aka Picky.

Oliver Mtukudzi
Oliver Mtukudzi

He lacks the basic imperatives required to lead his band and fails to overturn bad decisions made by his manager.

Tuku and Picky worked together in the same band, the Black Spirits for 25 years.

Picky was a percussionist, background vocalist and playmaker in Tuku’s band with his indefatigable styles.

No one has matched that loyalty of service in the band to this day.

Picky’s recollection of his time with Tuku is not ordinary reminiscing but an eye-opening historical account of how musicians conducted business without professional capacity to manage their finances and welfare-related issues.

Much of what Picky says helps provide background to Tuku’s challenges as chief executive officer and team leader.

Picky says in the book: “During our time in the late 1970s, bands generally performed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and got paid on Mondays. Every individual artiste did as they pleased with their earnings. Band leaders, like Tuku, never deposited earnings from shows into bank accounts. “Promoters paid cash that went straight into the pockets of the artiste. There were no company bank accounts operated by band leaders and generally there was no culture of saving among us.

“We didn’t have financial outlays for anything and it was easy to squander cash and we squandered it sometimes and lived from hand to mouth except maybe, for the big guys like Thomas Mapfumo, Safirio Madzikatire and Zexie Manatsa who filled venues. There was no professional management as such at that time dedicated fully to give proper business leadership, advice and mentoring.

“To be honest, there was a time when we would spend money carelessly and doing music just as a passion and not business.

“On good days, though, money was not a problem and we would have enough to splash on girls and nice clothes.”

Picky observes, in the book, Tuku’s weaknesses in business leadership: “When it comes to business and administration — Tuku is not a manager, he is a musician.

“Management is not his forte at all and there must always be competent managers entrusted to do the work for him. What he can do is manage music artistically in terms of the creative work…instrumental arrangement, composing, singing, producing and performing and it ends there. Leave him out of management and administration. He can direct musical work and mentor young artistes. He is massively talented musically and is not lazy.”

Picky says they worked in the band professionally when Derby Metcalfe became the band manager in the 1990s.

“It was under Derby that we enjoyed music as a career. She knew how to run the affairs of the band as a business and her work was organised from arranging rehearsals for us to organising shows and touring and travelling and getting paid on time without bickering. The programme, for almost all our work, was clearly laid out and communicated to every band member on time.

“Before Derby, things were not organised because we did not have professional management. We would have unnecessary problems from travelling itself, accommodation, venue bookings to sourcing of basic musical instruments.

“Derby was a qualified manager, leader and motivator who inspired us all to work hard. Naturally, we would have certain welfare concerns but not that serious to disrupt our work and these were discussed and resolved amicably.”

Picky then focuses on the current band manager at Black Spirits, Sam Mataure.

“After Derby, we had Sam Mataure as manager. Compared to Derby, I think Sam is not effective. Sam is doing too many things. He is drummer of the band and manager, at the same time, and so things do not work efficiently as they should, especially on the management side.

“We can’t say Sam is incompetent as such, but he tries as much to do the things that he learnt from Derby because Sam also worked under Derby. It was unfortunate that Derby left.”

Mutamba writes that apart from managing the Black Spirits and playing drums, Sam had even assumed a third responsibility of being in charge of the management of information and publicity in conjunction with a private consulting PR outfit in Harare.

Mutamba says: “It means Sam is handling three jobs when just one was enough for everyone. Sam is the kind that knows everything.”

In the book Mutamba says Tuku requires a qualified chief operating officer for his empire.

“He (Tuku) should relinquish his position as CEO because it is not his job. It is folly for Tuku to think that he can acquit himself in business management with the same proficiency as in creative work.”

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