That was his hallmark. He was affectionately loved. And he reciprocated. I worked for Zapu for 3 years, most of the period without pay. It was Dabengwa’s fatherly bearing on me that kept me going. He could literally motivated dead soldiers. He would take out his lunch box and offer me his home-made sanguage if he thought I had nothing. He would take out his wallet and offload the only note for you when he thought you needed it more than him.
I consider myself priviledged to have worked with Dr Dabengwa at a critical moment in his life. He seemed to be a soldier rushing against time. He wanted things to go back where they were for Zapu, and Zimbabwe. Sadly, the circumstances, and time, were against him. He has departed without being able to witness the Zimbabwe he wanted.
I had the priviledge to interview Dr Dabengwa for excerpts for a book someone was writing about his life. “Dr D” was very clear about one thing. I quote: “When I die I want to be buried ngakithi, eNtabazinduna, Edibheni line.” He told me. I asked: “But mdala you are definitely national hero, and no one can deny you that status and place at the national shrine?” He answered: “Those are my wishes (to be buried in Ntabazinduna).” I did as the commander wished, and recorded his statement the way he said it. Hopefully that book has been, or will be published soon. I also interviewed his brother and sister, who both gave very generous accounts about Dr Dabengwa the person.
As I write this piece, I wonder ukuthi uthini uDr Dabengwa to his fellow liberation icons in heaven.
Despite the challenges, Dr Dabengwa never regretted the war of liberation. “The war was absolutely necessary.”
When I asked him about the shooting down by Zipra of Rhodesian aeroplanes that killed civilians, he shot back; “War is war. A lot of unpleasant things happened on both sides during the war. When they bombed Nkomo’s house in Zambia and almost killed him was it not war? When they bombed children in our camps was it not war? War is war.”
Hamba kuhle mdala wami.
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