Tekere the no-nonsense fellow

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By Beloved Jambawo
IT is close to a decade since I met the legendary, illustrious and controversial nationalist hero Edgar Tekere for once in a lifetime. The meeting was brief and disastrous and it created an indelible impression on my mind. It is so fresh and alive. I can still see the nononsense mood on his face as I write this article. As a cub reporter, I was keen to familiarise myself with politicians and it happened that news filtered that Edgar Tekere of ZUM and Bishop Abel Muzorewa of UANC had decided to join hands and unite as a single political front. The political arrangement was widely reported in the media as a square peg in a round hole owing to the divergent backgrounds and visions of the two politicians. It was a marriage of strange bedfellows, but during the question and answer session at the function, the veteran nationalist answered all questions with a straight face pointing out that he was only nurturing democracy in order to build a stronger opposition to keep the ruling party on check. During the time when guests and speakers mingle, I was eager to take on the man. His personality was intimidating and any direction he looked, he would appear to see through everything. His imposing personality towered above everyone else in the room and as he walked to the counter, I decided to pounce. He shot a quick glance at me and the body language commanded me to reveal my identity without delay. I quickly proclaimed who I was. The legend then gave me his ear and I wasted no time. How could a freedom fighter join hands with a man who hunted for him during the war and had the blood of the country’s liberators on his hands? I had stirred a hornet’s nest. He became angry. Surely, I had struck discord somewhere in the veteran nationalist’s chest! He raised his face for the first time and looked at me, his big eyes rolling in their sockets, scanning me from foot to head, and then glanced around the room. I was frightened and wanted to run away. Strangely, it was the veteran nationalist who jumped off his stool and went away without looking back. I did not know Tekere had moved to Jameson Hotel and as I chuckled with a friend through the door, I spotted him drinking alone in a corner. All the tables around him were empty except one, from where two patrons were stealing glances at the legend. Everybody looked at us as we approached him, but he had already seen us and read our movements. This time my friend was in front. We were young and reckless. He had to explain how he could go to bed with the bishop. “Are you following me?” he charged. “Who sent you?” he lashed out again before we had answered the first one. Then he stood from the stool and began to walk towards us. We sensed danger and began moving backwards. “I asked who sent you?” his voice boomed. We turned and fled out of the hotel. The patrons behind laughed as Tekere hurled insults at us. Tekere fought for the land. Addressing mourners at the Heroes Acre last Sunday, the Acting President John Nkomo said Tekere had shown the path in the struggle against British and Western imperialism. He reiterated he was truly a gallant nationalist at heart. “He had a bad patch in his political career but remained modest. “He did not betray the country to our erstwhile colonisers. He refused to be property of the British.”

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