Fare thee well UneNdoro

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I STILL remember what turned out to be the last words you said to me on your hospital bed in Chitungwiza General Hospital.
“Wa-nga-uri-ku-pi?” you struggled to say as you firmly gripped my right hand blankly staring into my face.
I withheld a tear as the Pascal I was looking at was so much changed and very different from the one I used to know both at Zimpapers and later at The Patriot newspaper.
You were already a senior reporter when I joined you at The Herald as a sub-editor late in 1983.
Somehow we clicked, probably because we were age-mates as our birth certificates showed a difference of only one year.
I still remember vividly Pascal, that day you were now news editor with The Sunday Mail you trotted down to the third floor.
You came straight to the sub-editors’ desk and whispered into my ear: “ Chris don’t fail to see me during your supper break.”
I knew the usual meeting place at that time of day.
It was none other than that ‘reserved’ corner at Norfolk – then our favourite watering hole.
Over a pint of cold Castle, you informed me that you had recommended me to the then editor of The Sunday Mail, Charles Chikerema, that I take over the chief sub-editor’s position of the weekly.
The promotion soon came and I am still grateful to this day for your role.
One reason I valued my association with you Pascal is that you were not only sincere but a man of your word.
I am sorry if I didn’t tell you so directly when I still had the chance.
Pascal, I still remember the workplace politics at Zimpapers and The Sunday Mail in particular.
When we were once more together at The Patriot, I can still see you, as if it is only yesterday, seated directly opposite me in the production section of the newsroom.
You would lay your pen down and become animated as you relived some of the highlights of that period.
The topic dies down when I remind you that despite everything else you rose to become the editor.
Though it was for a short time, the newsroom appreciated your flexible leadership style.
You were not detached but always approachable.
You trusted your top team – William Chikoto, Pikirai Deketeke and of course myself and never hesitated to delegate.
You had a good appetite.
And we took advantage of that.
During those long Saturdays we would happily accompany you in your editor’s vehicle to Chitungwiza for those delicious ‘gochi-gochi ‘ sessions.
Your favourite was pork and I still remember Ankers (Sam Mawokomatanda) sending us drooling as he roasted pork, beef, boerowors and whatever else on braai stands.
You loved your music, not bubblegum music by the way.
I remember you tearing into that roasted pork piece nodding your head as we listened to Leonard Dembo’s, ‘Shiri yakangwara inovaka dendere rayo mvura isati yaturuka’.
“Vocals of musicians like Dembo have an everlasting meaning, but Chris, are you preparing for life beyond Zimpapers?” you suddenly posed a question.
I had to think about the answer to that question many times later.
On your part you had already told me how you had started a grinding mill venture down in Muzarabani, well away from Mutoko, your home area.
And you chose that spot because you had read in the papers how villagers in a remote part of Muzarabani were travelling long distances looking for a grinding mill.
That’s how your business enterprises, which later included a petrol service station, were established in Muzarabani.
You were enterprising and always willing to share ideas on how to exploit situations to one’s advantage .
Pascal I admire you for the way you loved your relatives.
I hadn’t seen most of your relatives but had a good picture of many of them because you were always talking about them.
It could be one of your sisters, your daughter in the UK, your son in Muzarabani who was once involved in an accident – I had vivid profiles of them all.
And there were your sons Robert, Davy and Farai whose courtesy calls to their father at The Patriot were regular.
Your vazukurus were always on your mouth and you expected me to bring you two crates of eggs every Monday for them.
I never deliberately failed you Pascal, did I?
Then there were those periodic Thursdays when you would spend the whole night in prayer in one of those Roman Catholic programmes at a church in Mt Pleasant.
I always advised you to take the following Friday off but you refused on the grounds such night vigils should not in any way interfere with your daily routine.
And your sister – is it Pauline — was always with you on those occasions.
If I didn’t tell you, it was a serious omission Pascal, but one of the reasons I greatly respected you was your devotion to your religion.
You were a genuine God-fearing Catholic.
As a journalist you touched several parts of the world.
I can see you excited, gesticulating with your hands as you give accounts of your experiences in Iran, the then West German, Palestine and other parts of the world.
And State occasions as well.
I remember you with a collection of pictures when you went to Ramalah, the capital of the Palestinian state, on a trip arranged by then Palestinian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ali Halimeh.
The highlight of the trip was your meeting with then Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
As a journalist your experience is invaluable, as you worked at all the major titles of Zimpapers at that time.
This was before you rounded off your contribution to the media fraternity with a stint at The Patriot.
You were an all rounder and you had fond memories of your spell as a Sports reporter with The Herald.
That is why I asked you to write the foreword to my compilation of my ‘Down Memory Lane’ sports stories which will be published as a book in due course.
I remember William Chikoto, The Sunday Mail editor who succeeded you, paying tribute to your training of reporters in your role as news editor then.
When The Patriot deputy editor Alexander Kanengoni told me he had engaged you as The Patriot chief proof-reader, I could not have thought of a better candidate.
Your cumulative experience turned out to be a blessing when you joined us.
You soon earned total confidence within the newsroom because of your mastery of both Shona and English languages.
Your attention to detail and accuracy compelled reporters to be extra careful with copy they knew would pass through your hands.
Your send-off on your final journey told a story about the high regard with which people considered you.
Maringwa and Chikara, two of your best friends, were there at Nyaradzo Willovale branch to witness the transfer of your body to your Norton home.
Here a requiem mass held for you was well attended before they took you to your home in Mutoko, Chiuriri Village.
The soft traditional drumbeat that accompanied the singing was a fitting tribute to your devotion to the Catholic Church.
It was ‘who is who’ in Mutoko.
Half The Patriot staff including their administrator Mai Mupona, high level representatives from the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcating Services and Zimpapers, local MP Simba Mudarikwa and the wife of Muzarabani MP Mai Mufunga were among the mourners who came to bid you farewell at your burial site.
Next to your final resting place is your father’s grave whose tombstone was unveiled not so long ago.
Farai explained how together with your sisters you were determined to see your father’s grave got the due respect you bestowed on it.
I respect you for that.
Several mourners said what had taken you away Pascal was nothing other than TIME.
And this monster called TIME is always on the prowl, ready to pounce on anyone at any time.
We do not know who is next.
Till we meet again.
Fare thee well Pascal!

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