By Melinda Teya
FINALLY the time came for the father of the bride President Robert Mugabe to have his say.
The mother of the bride, Amai Grace Mugabe had already given background how Bona Mugabe and Simba Chikore had met.
Even as Bona had walked down the splendidly decorated marquee, the First Lady fussing and making sure everything was in place, her father appeared deep in thought.
When President Robert Mugabe began his ‘farewell’ to his little girl, the guests were spellbound as he began to disclose details he had hardly ever spoken about.
While he touched a lot of topics, religion, politics and corruption, it was only when he spoke about Bona or ‘Ouma’ as she is known in close circles that his tone softened.
In that moment, he was no longer the fiery pan Africanist and revolutionary whose roar is unmistakable in the corridors of Africa and Europe.
He was the simple father of the bride telling his daughter that he loves her very much.
The love spun into the tale of her conception and his private moments with her.
“Of my children I spent the most time with Ouma,” the President said.
Their bond was more than just the name that he had given his daughter, Bona.
The late Mbuya Bona Mugabe, the President’s mother, had a close relationship with her son.
After her husband left home, it was little Robert who took over as head of the family and his mother depended on him.
Decades later after watching her son’s accomplishments, her last wish was to hold her son’s child (a grandchild).
She had hardly had a chance to hold President Mugabe’s first son Michael Nhamodzenyika who had died as a toddler in 1966 while President Mugabe was locked up in prison by the Rhodesian government.
“Amai vangu vakandideedza vakati Bellarmine, as that is what she called me, ndofa here ndisina kubata mwana wako?” said President Mugabe.
This went on for a while and the pressure to make his mother happy one last time prompted the President to consider marrying again.
In 1989, Bona was born and she was named Ouma which in Ghanaian means, ‘grandmother’.
“Amai vakazoshaya vabata mwana wangu in 1992,” President Mugabe said.
However, by the time Bona was born, the President was already 65 years old and the local life expectancy, according to statistics from the West, the President said, was not encouraging.
Standing in the auditorium packed with over 5 000 guests, the President went on to say; “Ndaida kuti akurumidze kukura nekuti ndaisaziva kuti hupenyu hwangu hwaizofamba sei.”
President Mugabe was clearly humbled by the privilege to see his child on her wedding day when initially he had been content to live to see his child getting through primary school.
“Each time I would visit England I would go to Marks’ and Spencer and there I would always buy something for Ouma even if I did not buy anything for anyone else I would buy for her and it was always a uniform,” he said with a smile.
In an interview with Dali Tambo of SABC last year, the President was asked to describe his children and especially his daughter who was said to share the same introverted characteristics as him.
The President in the interview looked momentarily shy to describe one of the treasures and true loves of his life.
The fact that she made him proud was never a secret even in that interview and as he stood before the guests at her wedding.
He talked of his impatience for her to grow up, how he eagerly looked forward to the weekend so he could teach her as much as he could.
“As we would drive home to Zvimba, I would cross a bridge and tell her ‘say bridge’, ‘river’ or ‘railway’ and she would say ‘lailway’,” he fondly recalled.
After she started school at the Dominican Convent, the President looked forward to spending more time with her and he even recalled the names of her teachers and headmasters with astounding accuracy.
He also revealed that as a father he was one of the last in the family to know that someone (Simba Chikore) had stolen his daughter’s heart.
“Zvimwe ndatonzwa zvakutaurwa naamai pano, kuti aidzvokora mwana wangu,” he fondly mentioned.
He concluded by asking the groom Simba to be patient with Bona’s faults as they began their new home.
There is no doubt March 1 2014 is a day that will be etched in many people’s minds forever.