Oliver Mtukudzi has released new album titled ‘Eheka!Nhai Yahwe’ whatever that means. My love and appreciation for the legendary artist has been waning after his decision some few months ago to get involved in partisan politics by playing at a ruling party event.
I must admit that the veteran musician has not been my favorite person since that day. I could forgive playing at President Mugabe’s daughters wedding or at Morgan Tsvangirai’s wedding but not at a political party event. So I was sulking a bit, and I was not even bothered when Mtukudzi did his duet with Winky D.
However his latest offering has caught my attention. It has forced me to rethink my decision to dump his music. For now we put our political differences aside and talk music. Mtukudzi is a grown man who can make his own political choices.
The new album is a typical ‘Tuku’ production. The instruments and the lyrics are what has come to define the musician’s work. You can’t miss it. The 12 track album has not surpassed Tuku’s previous work but it has preserved the Tuku flavour.
It’s pregnant with social commentary , with Mtukudzi assuming his usual role of observer and adviser. In track number 12, Tuku advises against looking down upon other people saying all people are equal. ‘Munhu Munhu’ is an old song which has been repackaged by the veteran musician and comes out better in an assortment of instruments that were not used when it was first recorded. In ‘shanje hadzi vake musha’ Mtukudzi cautions against jealousy and envy in society saying these two emotions lead to destruction.
My personal favorite is track number 3 which is a prayer. In the song, Tuku laments against making prayers that are too long. He says he wants to keep his prayers short because he fears he might end up preaching to God or end up trying to teach the Creator who is the great teacher himself.
This is a prayer of an overwhelmed man who is telling his Maker that he must bless his enemies who seek to undermine him. He also asks God to bless those that have prayed for him and those that have gone out of their way to prevent harm from befalling him. It doesn’t matter which God you pray to, this song connects you to whoever you consider as your god and ministers to the inner person. As for me it takes me into a spiritual realm and reminds me to keep my prayers short because my God already knows my situation.
In ‘Mwari anobatsira anozvibatsira’ Tuku asks a rhetorical question directed to a job seeker who looks down upon certain jobs. He encourages people to love their jobs and take on whatever jobs in order to prosper. This is very relevant in the current political economy in Zimbabwe were graduates have been rendered jobless and are stuck between taking up menial jobs that are often looked down upon or staying without any income.
Track number 9 is like we are back in the 1980s again when Mtukudzi sang the likes of ‘Zimbabwe’. It invokes some memories to those who listening to his music then. In the song he cautions against laziness. It is an attempt by the musician to go back in time in terms of how the instruments are arranged.
This new offering is top class but card carrying members of the Tuku cult know that the man has done better work in the past. I would give it a five star rating never the less. The man has kept his role a social commentator and has not lost his touch as an adviser. As he says the role of an artist is to touch the hearts of those he plays for. This album succeeds in touching the heart of the listener.