Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe

By Jennifer W. Kyker | Go to book overview

Conclusion
I Have Finished My Portion of the Field

As the Black Spirits’ performance at the 2008 Chimanimani Arts Festival drew to a close, the band members launched into “Ndima Ndapedza,” which Mtukudzi has regularly played to signal the end of a show. Reviewing one of Mtukudzi’s shows in nearby Mutare, for example, journalist Chengetai Murimwa observed that several hours after midnight, the singer “belted out ‘Ndima Ndapedza’ and fans knew Tuku was bidding them farewell.”1 Back in Harare, regular concert-goers were so conditioned to hearing Mtukudzi end with “Ndima Ndapedza” that they often began streaming out of nightclubs, stadiums, and festivals immediately upon hearing the song’s first notes in order to beat the mad rush of people, cars, and security guards clogging the parking lot after his shows. While the song’s indexical function in signaling an end to Mtukudzi’s performances was largely lost on listeners in Chimanimani, who seldom had the opportunity to hear him play live, the agricultural metaphors of “Ndima Ndapedza” were especially apt given that this audience was overwhelmingly composed of manual laborers from the commercial farms and tree plantations surrounding the town.

Released on Mtukudzi’s solo album Ndega Zvangu (1997), “Ndima Ndapedza” invokes imagery of agricultural labor in order to suggest that artists are only partly responsible for determining music’s social meaning. As Mtukudzi explained:

When you cultivate and you take off [pull out] some weeds, you don’t just
take them off; make sure you shake them off, and the weeds’ roots are out
of any soil. ’Cause if you leave them like that, they’ll still grow. So, that’s a
literal translation of “Ndima Ndasakura.” But otherwise the meaning be-
hind the whole thing is, “I’ve done my work, and I’ve done it to my best.
So it’s all up to you now to judge what I’ve done, whether it’s good or bad.
It’s not for me to tell. But I’ve done my best. I’ve done my part, and I’ve
done it to my best.”2

In the lyrics of “Ndima Ndapedza,” Mtukidzi intimates that artists and listeners are inextricably linked. Through phrases such as pangu pese, or “my area,” and ndima, which refers to a portion of a field allotted to one person for weeding, Mtukudzi identifies the musician’s role as distinct from that of his or her listeners.3

-219-

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Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - The Art of Determination 3
  • One - Hwaro/Foundations 31
  • Two - Performing the Nation’s History 59
  • Three - Singing Hunhu after Independence 85
  • Four - Neria- Singing the Politics of Inheritance 109
  • Five - Return to Dande 127
  • Six - Listening as Politics 147
  • Seven - What Shall We Do?- Music, Dialogue, and HIV/AIDS 169
  • Eight - Listening in the Wilderness 203
  • Conclusion - I Have Finished My Portion of the Field 219
  • Notes 227
  • Bibliography 257
  • Index 275
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