VICE President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Constantino Chiwenga has sent his condolences to the family and the Roman Catholic church following the death of Father Emmanuel Ribeiro, a man who once ministered as his spiritual father.
The VP went down memory lane highlighting his personal relationship with the late cleric, as well as Father Ribeiro’s contribution to the liberation struggle.
“When he was taken ill last week and admitted to hospital, I had the occasion to visit him and left with the hope that he would be up and about. My prayer and those by many others were that he would rally back. Sadly, that was not to be,” said VP Chiwenga in a statement.
“Soft-spoken, very humble, respectable, approachable, hard-working, and extremely patriotic, these were the virtues that aptly describe the character of this great man of God.
“He was my spiritual mentor from as far back as my school days at Mt St Mary’s in Wedza. Above all, he was a freedom fighter in his own quiet way,” said VP Chiwenga.
VP Chiwenga said Father Ribeiro was a great religious musician who nourished many souls of believers and non-believers.
He said he will be remembered for introducing hymns in local languages which made the Catholic Church to be locally rooted.
“A man of great faith, his religious belief and patriotism were tested during our struggle for Independence. As a prison chaplain he witnessed horrifying experiences involving freedom fighters who were incarcerated and later condemned to death by hanging,” said VP Chiwenga.
He said Father Ribeiro used to recount harrowing incidents in which Rhodesians brutally finished off freedom fighters who had miraculously survived the noose, contrary to international law.
“He would talk passionately about the project he was working on which included the recording of names, dates, times and locations of some of our captured gallant freedom fighters and imprisoned nationalists, who were summarily executed and buried in shallow mass graves inside the various prison walls.”
VP Chiwenga said it was sad he died before completing the project.