Letter to Alexander Kanengoni


IT’s now two years since you’ve been gone baba, but it still feels like yesterday.
A lot has happened Cde Alexander Kanengoni, but somehow you never escape my mind.
Your infectious laugh is immortal and almost every day, someone says something about you because that’s who you were, a simple cadre, humble giant and mentor.
Always there to listen, you nurtured many people, politicians and writers included; Munhamu Pekeshe, among others, is living testimony.
Wherever you are baba, I hope this letter gets to you.
Indeed, a lot has happened since you’ve been gone.
There is now a new political dispensation in Zimbabwe.
How I would have loved for you to witness how events in the country unravelled.
Through what they called ‘Operation Restore Legacy’, ‘your’ beloved soldiers came to the rescue.
Robert Mugabe has since left office and former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa is now President.
General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga (Rtd) and Kembo Dugish Mohadi are now the country’s Vice-Presidents.
I’m sure if you were around, you would have said: “I saw it coming.”
The ‘straight jacket’ theory you always talked about came to pass.
“Nyika yedu inochengetedzwa nemasoja,” you always said.
As for our neighbours down south, Jacob Zuma was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa, while Ian Khama in Botswana gave way to Mokgweetsi Mosisi.
Edgar Lungu and Filipe Nyusi are still in office in Zambia and Mozambique respectively.
In world news, I believe you would have found developments in Saudi Arabia, a US ally, quite interesting.
In January 2018, women in Saudi Arabia watched their first football match in history in the confines of the King Fahd Stadium when Al-Ahli played Al-Batin and as from June 2018, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive for the first time in the nation’s history.
Their first cinema in more than 35 years is also set to open on April 18 (Zimbabwe Independence Day) and guess what? – they are showing Black Panther, a movie which stars Zimbabwe’s own Danai Gurira and has surpassed US$1 billion in sales.
The irony, however, is how could the US, as a ‘champion of human rights’ ignore the suppression of women in Saudi Arabia all along?
‘Oil’ is the answer and yet there are still, in our midst, people who can’t see such hypocrisy by the US, especially the fact that the US has only permanent interests and not permanent friends.
However, back to Zimbabwe; as you may now know, Morgan Tsvangirai passed away and the MDC-T is now saddled with new leader Nelson Chamisa promising Murehwa locals airports, bullet trains and the banning of Shona teachers in Matabeleland, among other reforms.
I’m sure if you were around, you would have said: “Chamisa thinks he is still in university dealing with student politics.”
Anyway it’s currently dog-eat-dog in MDC-T and ZANU PF seems geared for another landslide victory in the forthcoming harmonised elections.
Actually, it might be another 2013 ‘massacre’ for the MDC-T.
Coming to ZANU PF, I’m sure by now you know your friend Cde Rutanhire passed away.
He was laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre, a place many thought would be your final resting place.
However, some of your comrades-in-arms are still here.
Christopher Mutsvangwa is now Special Advisor to the President, while George Charamba is the Presidential Spokesperson and Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.
Fellow liberation war fighters and educationists Sam Geza and Fay Chung are still around too.
Your former classmate at Kutama Boys High ‘Gina’ as you used to call Ignatius Chombo was arrested, but is currently out on bail.
Savior Kasukuwere who once told you kuti: “Hatidye ideology,” and Professor Jonathan Moyo who hated The Patriot with a passion are now in self-imposed exile.
The Patriot itself is still intact.
Your colleague, Dr Rino Zhuwarara now has a gem of a book Introduction to Zimbabwean Literature in English, while some of Charles Mungoshi’s books are already being made into movies.
You are missing in action Cde, and at times I wonder whether that place you are in is not too small for you, just like how your friend Dambudzo Marechera thought Rusape was too small a place for him.
I am certain if you were here, you would be having the time of your life because interesting things are happening in the country.
We now have the likes of former Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) boss, Gershem Pasi, a man who allegedly used to take home over US$300 000 a month, claiming he walked away with nothing from ZIMRA!
One wonders why he can’t take a cue from the likes of Cuthbert Dube who realised that ‘silence is indeed golden’.
We now have so-called prophets like Walter Magaya frequenting courts on allegations of rape, yet his followers, especially women, continue to defend him.
And I remember how you would always say: “Hamumbovagone vanhu vanoenda kumachurch aya.
Vanoita kupenga nemapastor avo.”
Before I forget, Robert Martin Gumbura is still in prison and so is Munyaradzi Kereke.
They could not fit into the category of prisoners recently pardoned by President Mnangagwa.
On a different note Cde, Thomas ‘Mkanya’ Mapfumo is set to come home for the much anticipated April 28 gig in Harare.
He has been ‘stuck’ in the US for the past 14 years and it remains to be seen whether his will be a hero or villain’s welcome.
Still it’s entertainment and strange as it is, there are reports of youngsters like Genius ‘Ginimbi’ Kadungure buying a single copy of a music album for a whopping US$50 000 (Killer T) and US$40 000 (Winky D), yet they fail to support our gallant girls, the Mighty Warriors, who after all their achievements, were recently given, by ZIFA, a paltry US$5 each while eating sadza and offals in camp!
The question is: Where is the Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation, Kazembe Kazembe?
Turning to what I believe was your favourite football club, Dynamos – they are in the doldrums with club president Kenny Mubaiwa recently telling supporters ‘to go hang’.
Perhaps he needs someone like you to remind him that this mighty club, formed the same year as ZANU in 1963, can’t fit in his pocket.
In cricket, the race issue has resurfaced as former player and coach, Heath Streak, came under fire for allegedly being racist.
I remember you always talked about how Streak and the likes of Andy Flower and Neil Johnson, among others, staged a walk-out in 2004 protesting the ‘death of democracy in Zimbabwe’ after the country initiated the Land Reform Programme, an exercise that saw over 400 000 black households getting prime land previously owned by about 4 000 white farmers.
The white players eventually left and Zimbabwe cricket started from ground zero.
Fast-forward to 2018; Streak returns as Chevrons coach, fails to qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup before being sacked and chaos reigns again in Zimbabwe cricket.
I’m sure if you were here you would tell us more about ‘Streak and his streak in Zimbabwe cricket’.
Can it be argued because Streak is fluent in Ndebele and that he adopted a black child, he can’t be labelled racist considering we know of Roy Bennett who was so fluent in Shona to the extent of being nicknamed ‘Muzezuru’ or ‘Pachedu’ but was racist to the core and caused untold suffering to the povo during the liberation struggle?
There is a lot I wanted to say to you Cde, but perhaps the most important is about you as a husband, father and grandfather.
The Kanengoni family says: “Your worth can never be told.”
They say: “You will always be loved and missed every day.”
Last week I received a pleasant call from your son Tinashe; pleasant in that he and his wife were recently blessed with a baby boy whom they named ‘Alexander’ in your honour.
You still live Alexander Kanengoni and Tinashe’s son, Alexander, will ensure your name continues to live as much as your ideas continue to live.
And as Alexander grows up, I’m certain — although you didn’t hold him in your arms — he will be thrilled to come across people who will tell him how honoured and blessed they were to have lived in the era of his grandfather Alexander Kanengoni, a true patriot and candid man with an unwavering spirit.
Till we meet again, thank you again baba and I hope this letter gets to you.
Knowledge Teya


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