Bulawayo community mourns death of ‘The Teacher’

Bulawayo Polytechnic students, lecturers and alumni say it is hard to see how the institution can return to normal after the death of principal Gilbert Mzenzi Mabasa (56) who succumbed to Covid-19 Friday night.

Mabasa, popularly known as ‘The Teacher’ was said to be a bubbly, interesting conversationalist who had a way with words, but importantly cared for his craft and students.

He died at Ekusileni Hospital after battling the virus since August 6, 2021.

Mabasa served as principal at the Bulawayo Polytechnic for 17 years and when news of his death broke out, shocked students expressed sorrow about how ‘The Teacher’ had impacted them in their life.

They agreed one cannot talk about Bulawayo Polytechnic and not talk about Mabasa’s leadership, intelligence, wisdom and how he conversed with anyone despite their station.

Even non-students who happened to meet Mabasa by chance were saddened by his death.

“I met this man at the Holiday Inn in Bulawayo a few years ago. He was there for a workshop. I was there for food and free WiFi! We talked. And then, I had to stop talking and I just listened. He was oozing with wisdom. I was so charmed. What a loss. May His Soul Rest in Peace!” said one Thabani Sibanda who wrote on Twitter.

Before his death, Mabasa informed staff and students on August 15, 2021 that he was hospitalised after testing positive for Covid-19.

In a memorandum, Mabasa expressed optimism despite his condition.

“I am safe in God’s providence and thankful for the great medical teams that are committed to serving in the forefront. Covid-19 is real and respecter of no-one. However, God is also God and in control of everything,” he wrote.

Perhaps knowing what he meant to his colleagues and students, Mabasa kindly asked them not send him direct messages asking how he was but rather they opted to pray for him.

“Please don’t ask me how I am feeling or other questions that will only sap energy out of my body, mind and spirit. Those so inclined, I treasure your prayers. We will be together again after winning this battle too. Please respect my need for isolation and recuperating. I am not taking any calls or visits. You may intercede for me in groups or in your hearts but spare me inbox messages. I teach for life and not for strife. I love you all,” he said.

Those who came across Mabasa, described how would charm people at gatherings, even on flights.

The Teacher was also a part-time preacher and a motivational speaker.

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