via Nathan Shamuyarira – Obituary Zimbabwe Situation Facebook June 9, 2014
My passport’s place of birth entry has always raised curious questions as to how a Hove-fathered and Nkomo-mothered child could have been born in Marondera in 1942. My simple explanation has been that I was born at Waddilove Institute were my father M.M. Hove taught at the time. He was a teacher, along with the late illustrious Nationalist Josiah Chinamano, at that famous Methodist Mission school and their students included the current National Hero Dr Nathan Shamuyarira.
Among the other students at the time were the late first permanent secretary for what was in 1980 the novel Gender Ministry, Ms Angeline Makwavarara, as well as Dr Donaldson Sadza, Ms Esnath Mapondera, Ms Evelyn Shava and others. These school friends of Dr Shamuyarira and he spoke of their teachers in superlatives. That made us the teachers’ children feel good over the years.
My parents both, throughout their well-lived long lives, spoke highly of the students of Waddilove during their time, with many of them like Nathan going on to distinguish themselves in different professions to our parents’ delight and pride.
The one that maintained the closest link when we first moved from then Salisbury to Bulawayo in 1950 was Dr Shamuyarira whom they fondly and proudly introduced to their new circle in Luveve as Nathan. They would refer to him as one of the most promising young men of their time at Waddilove Institute. To me he was in those days Uncle Nathan.
Nathan eventually joined the media to my Dad’s delight. Dad was the Editor of the Bantu Mirror in the Bulawayo office, our reason for moving to Bulawayo, while Nathan later became editor of the Daily News.
For each of his visits to Bulawayo Uncle Nathan would see his baby daughter, affectionately known to us as ‘Keke’ who was part of the close knit family network we found ourselves enveloped in and protected by. Keke became my sister Busisiwe’s friend. Her full name is Kekelami (my cake) to family. To the rest she is known as Constance.
After completing secondary school fifty years ago this year I went to Australia for my studies. It was from Australia that I met up again with the now Doctor Nathan Shamuyarira in Dar es Salaam. That was on the occasion of my husband and I attending the 1974 Saba Saba (20th anniversary of the founding of Chama Chama Mapinduzi, the ruling party at the time) as state visitors of the Tanzanian Government. On that occasion the Tanzanian government invited Anti-Apartheid support groups from around the world, coinciding with the Fifth Pan African Congress. We attended as representatives of Australian Liberation support groups to be introduced to the Liberation Centre there, where the then Colonel Mbita coordinated the activities and support of the Liberation Movements in accordance with the policies of the Organisation of African Union.
A distinguished scholar at the University of Dar Es Salaam, Dr Shamuyarira and his wife (who to us was Auntie Dora) welcomed us into their home. Auntie Dora was working in her nursing profession at Dar Es Salaam Hospital. With her ever welcoming smile we spent happy hours with them as they explained some of the important aspects of our political constellation in the regional context. We were fortunate to have been exposed to their insight and advice.
We met Dr Shamuyarira again at home in 1981 after Independence when we decided to return to live in Zimbabwe. In the pursuit of work I found myself in his office seeking ways in which I might be gainfully employed.
Nathan asked me what I wanted to do. My first choice was to be involved with media training, as that is what I had studied in Australia. He contacted his permanent secretary Edward Moyo and before the day was over I was assigned to the new Zimbabwe Institute of Mass Communications (ZIMCO) where Mr Ezekiel Makunike was the newly appointed Director.
Under the careful policy guidance offered by Dr Nathan Shamuyarira as Minister of Information and Tourism 1980 – 87, I worked at ZIMCO for the first seven years of its life as a founding staff member.
Under the clear visionary leadership of Dr Shamuyarira, the Mass Media Trust was developed into the parent body which nurtured a number of media structures to service an integrated media sector. These included the creation of ZIANA, the news agency of a post independence Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, the Mass Media Trust purchased various titles including the Rhodesia Herald and created Zimpapers Limited incorporating into the first board the expert skills of Mrs Grace Todd, a pioneer in African education in the 1940s. This was made possible with support from Nigeria through UNESCO.
Dr Shamuyarira, through UNESCO, brought in Alex Quarmyne who was an eminent media technocrat from the Kwame Nkrumah days to give technical support that enabled us to get started at ZIMCO. Its focus was on producing media personnel for the new world information and communication order.
Dr Shamuyarira readily gave his approval to suggestions to enhance the media sector, including the launch of the Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe (FAMWZ) at a UNESCO supported workshop that I was assigned as a ZIMCO staffer to organise in 1982.
The broadcasting service was reorganised to introduce four stations. He facilitated the re-introduction of the Radio Listening Clubs in association with Radio 4. These clubs were for the purpose of empowering women in rural areas through skills training, and were a continuation of the Radio Homecraft Clubs that my mother established in the Matebeleland region in the 1950s.
Under his watchful eye we at ZIMCO developed civil society linkages to promote rural development during the time of the UNESCO New World Information Order and the ongoing New World Economic Order. In the first seven years of its founding in 1981 we produced some of our best media practitioners. Many are still prominent in our local, regional and international media.
When Dr Shamuyarira was moved from the Information Ministry in 1987 I left ZIMCO and went to live and work in Bulawayo on an exciting new Integrated Rural Water and Sanitation Programme in Matebeleland South province our Mum’s home, an initiative of the Ministry for Water which had set up a small Rural Water and Sanitation unit in which my husband an engineer was at work. This was funded by the EEC (forerunner of the EU). The programme provided some much needed development infrastructure.
From then on we bumped into Uncle Nathan each time I visited Harare to get updates on his work until his retirement. We would meet at functions and always enjoyed updates on what our families were doing. He was always up to the mark with what Keke was doing wherever she was.
Dr Shamuyarira was a man of his time. He lived his life to the fullest in a country with a complex political trajectory in which he played his part as best he could. He was a humble and gentle person with a smile on his face for me and those around him, and with a keen sense of humour on topical matters.
He was a family man who loved and cherished his wife Auntie Dora. To us he was a model husband and also a model Dad and Grand Dad who loved his daughter Kekelami and ensured she received the necessities to prepare her for a full life of her own. She lived up to his expectations in that regard graduating as a medical doctor and working in that sector in her home in Bermuda where she has raised her family and has kept close links with her family in Zimbabwe.
I spoke by phone with Keke at her home in Bermuda, where she had just returned from Zimbabwe on the eve of her dad’s departure. She concluded that it was God’s will that she was unable to return home to attend his funeral.
At one am on Saturday morning Bangani Xaba, Keke’s nephew advised us that Dr Nathan Shamuyarira’s grandson, his namesake, Mpumelelo Nathan Richards, his cousin had arrived at Harare International airport to attend his grandfather’s funeral at the National Heroes Acre. I could not help but relive beautiful memories of those parts of his life which gave us such joy.
On behalf of my late parents who loved Nathan and taught us that we should always look at the best qualities of all those around us, may I conclude by reminding us all that in our African cultures in Zimbabwe, death is a time which is meant to bring us together as families, friends, communities and societies.
The Shonas say: Wafa Wanaka.
Translated into isiNdebele: Kasihlonipheni abaphansi. In English: Let us not speak ill of those that have passed on.
This is a reminder to those of us who remain behind that we must pick the best lessons from the lives of those that die; to build a better world for all.
Rest in Peace Uncle Nathan!
Hamba ngokuthula Baba Shamuyarira!
Fambai murunyararo Baba Shamuyarira!
Senator Sekai M Holland MP.
Harare 7 June 2014