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Tales from Tuku’s ex-wife Melody

By Shepherd Mutamba

HARARE – Tuku’s first wife, Melody, fondly recalls dating the man who became her husband and Zimbabwe’s most influential musician and father of her two daughters, Sandra and Selmor.

Selmor Mtukudzi: The singer's daughter with ex-wife Melody
Selmor Mtukudzi: The singer’s daughter with ex-wife Melody

Melody remembers the blissful marriage and how and why it collapsed.

Now read on, the extracts from the chapter “Ex-wife Tales” in Melody’s own words:

I met Tuku in 1978 and he was already doing music. I was on holiday and my sister invited me to Harare, from our rural home in Domboshava, to come and watch Thomas Mapfumo but I don’t remember the venue, it must have been Saratoga or Mushandirapamwe.

I was 18 years old and Tuku saw me at Mapfumo’s show because he had also came to watch Mapfumo.

Tuku must have liked me when he saw me and he approached me but I didn’t know that he was a musician.

My sister told me that the guy was Oliver Mtukudzi and that he was a musician who had done the song Dzandimomotera.

She asked me if I was interested in a man who was a musician and I said “no”. I was a Christian and my church didn’t allow dating circular musicians.

I bumped into Tuku several other times at the shops and I eventually accepted his proposal and we became lovers that same year in 1978.

He invited me to visit his place, in the T-section of Highfield, where he rented a single room.

When I got to his place I overstayed until very late and my sister was mad at me and threw me out. I went back to Tuku’s lodgings and he took me in.

He had nothing but a cupboard, a three-quarter bed and a single door wardrobe.

He did not take time to make enough money to pay the bride price and we got married in 1979.

We were deeply in love and stayed together most of the time. He was not a star as yet and I would attend most of his shows.

We had wedding receptions on February 24 and 25, 1979. A big party was held at my sister’s house in Highfield. My father was so happy and gave us a present, a Renault 4. Tuku cried because he was overwhelmed by the gift.

The wedding reception at Gwanzura Stadium, in Highfield, was one of the first weddings to be held there and Tuku’s friend and manager, Jack Sadza organised the wedding. The ceremony was a success and I think I had 48 bridesmaids.

Many bands played at the wedding including Zexie Manatsa and Manu Kambani. I had composed a song, Vana varimunzara, and I sang the song at the party.

From the money that we received as gifts, we bought a kitchen unit, a double-bed and bedcover (which was brown in colour). We now required more space and we went to rent two rooms. By then we had our first child (Sandra, born August 1979).

Sometime in the 1980s, I heard rumours that Tuku was seeing a woman in Kwekwe. Sadza’s wife also said the woman was Daisy. The rumour pained me terribly because I loved Tuku so much.

There was a time when Tuku left our matrimonial home to stay with Daisy who was now living in Harare and Tuku was renting a full house for her in the medium density suburb of Cranborne, while I was living in a three-roomed lodging in the ghetto. Daisy’s house was even furnished for her by Tuku.

Then I heard that Daisy gave birth to a baby girl named Samantha in 1982.

Samantha was a love child from Tuku’s secret friendship with Daisy and that is true.

(Samantha is married to Zimbabwe’s international footballer, Tinashe Nengomasha, who plays in South Africa’s premier soccer league.)

We acquired a house in Zengeza 3 and Tuku continued seeing Daisy.

There was nothing that I could do.

Tuku was working very hard, nevertheless, and raised money to buy a house in Eastlea in 1982. In 1983 I gave birth to Selmor.

During our time in Eastlea, around 1986, my love for Tuku began to wane because I was not happy with the marriage and the way I was being treated as a result of his relationship with Daisy.

I told Tuku that I was leaving him and he begged me to stay and never to mind Daisy.

But how couldn’t I mind a woman who was destroying my marriage?

He even told me that he had gone to pay the bride price and I asked him why he had done so instead of just paying “damage” and letting her go. (‘Damage’ is compensation for impregnating a woman before or outside marriage).

It meant Tuku now effectively had two wives Daisy and me. But I refused to live in a polygamous marriage.

We were eventually granted divorce in 1993 but the process started in 1986. Tuku was challenging the divorce because he didn’t want me to go.

Tuku was good during the early days of our marriage and I can’t discredit him for anything during that time.

He had a good heart and spoiled me a lot.

He would buy me new clothes every weekend as gifts and I would go to church every Sunday in new attire. I looked good.

He was not possessive and gave me space.

But he changed when Daisy arrived on the scene. We wouldn’t go out together or visit places together anymore. But I would hear that he had flown to Malawi with Daisy.

One of the days, when I wanted to take his clothes to the laundry, I saw in his pockets their air tickets to Malawi and hotel accommodation receipts in their names.

Tuku didn’t even think of a small party for Selmor’s first birthday anniversary and my sister did instead.

I think it was because Daisy did not approve that Tuku celebrated with his daughters.

He only organised Selmor’s second birthday party, I think out of shame.

He would give excuses whenever I wanted to take the children to watch him play at family shows.

Tuku’s ex-wife Melody tales. Daily News