President Mnangagwa has sent a message of condolence to the Kahari family following the death of pioneering academic and former diplomat Professor George Payne Kahari who died on Friday from Covid-19 complications.
He was 91.
President Mnangagwa said the late Prof Kahari was a loyal and dedicated nationalist who served the country diligently with his death coming at a time when Zimbabwe was going through difficult times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was with deep sadness that I learnt of the passing on last Friday of Professor George Payne Kahari after succumbing to Covid-19-related illness,” he said.
“The death of Professor Kahari adds to the pain and suffering our nation is going through after losing many Zimbabwean to the dreaded disease, especially in the month of July.
“With the passing on of Prof Kahari, the country has lost one of its pioneering crop of intellectuals to join nationalist politics from the formative days of our struggle for freedom and national independence.
“We held him in high esteem for his scholarly achievements as an authority in the field of languages, literature and cultural heritage.
“Prof Kahari served his country loyally and faithfully in many capacities including as the country’s Ambassador to Germany, Italy and then Czechoslovakia, and at the helm of the board in charge of the Zimbabwe National Gallery.
“On behalf of Government, my family, and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the Kahari family, especially to his wife Betty and the children, who have lost a husband, father and guardian.
“May they take comfort from the knowledge that the nation mourns with them,” he said.
Born in 1930 in Bindura, Prof Kahari attended several schools including Dadaya Mission in Zvishavane before obtaining a higher certificate in Sociology in 1951 and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Administration and Shona.
He became active in nationalist politics in 1958 when he joined the African National Congress (ANC) before moving to ZAPU, where he was elected Central Committee member and Deputy Publicity Secretary in 1975.
He was then appointed as a member of the ZAPU delegation to the Geneva conference in 1976.
He was in the first generation of indigenous academics who investigated aspects of their own culture and own language, rather than rely on insights from outsiders, however helpful these may have been at the time they were made.
As a result cultural and linguistic studies into Zimbabwean culture and language moved forward rapidly.
Prof Kahari taught at various schools and colleges, including the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and the University of Zimbabwe.
He is survived by wife Betty Likwambe and five children.