It was the passionate ‘toyi-toying’ of former ZIPRA cadres and the painful sobbing of Lookout Masuku’s widow, Gift, at the Joshua Mqabuko International airport that showed the respect and honour bestowed on the late Dr Dumiso Dabengwa.
A hero who through his role in the liberation struggle, touched many lives and saved some, a man who post-independence was still fighting to free Zimbabwe from oppressive black rule.
The late national hero, a former ZIPRA commander and government minister, died on May 23, in Nairobi, Kenya enroute to Zimbabwe from India where he had gone for medical treatment.
His body was received to a thunderous welcome by hundreds of mourners Monday noon in Bulawayo.
His body was supposed to have arrived Sunday but due to ‘logistical mishaps’, it did not come as expected, disappointing the hundreds who had thronged the airport to receive him.
But when the plane from South Africa, touched down today at the airport at approximately 12 noon, the crowd exploded in song and dance, others broke down with sorrow deeply etched in their faces.
As the Dabengwa family made their way towards the plane, surrounded by friends and relatives, a somber mood engulfed the crowd, as people could not contain themselves anymore.
One of the mourners who cried uncontrollably was Lookout Masuku’s widow, whose late husband was a friend, confidante and comrade to Dabengwa having served in the liberation trenches together.
The scene was reminiscent of April 1986, at Masuku’s funeral when Zodwa, widow to Dabengwa, was the one who at that time sobbed mercilessly.
This was a cry of sorrow, which on its own told a tale that these two women had lost meaningful people in their lives.
Also present in the crowd were some forgotten ex ZIPRA cadres whose experiences during the struggle remain untold including Sharp Shoot, real name David Moyo who played a pivotal role in recruitment and training of Zipra forces and also fought alongside former South Africa president Jacob Zuma, a veteran of the struggle.
Such are the tales of most former ZIPRA veterans whose contributions to the liberation struggle have been downplayed.
When the casket was unloaded from the plane and loaded into a waiting hearse, the former ZIPRA veterans organised themselves to march in honour of their late commander.
Their ‘toyi-toyi’ evoked emotions as they saluted and gave their fallen leader the highest honour, befitting of a national hero.
As the veterans continued with their march, the funeral convoy made off from the airport amid cheers and jubilation from the mourners.
A church service was held at Nyaradzo funeral parlour in Donnington with various church leaders taking turns to eulogise the national hero.
Family spokesperson, Gibson Sibanda, said ZAPU had liberated the country but was unfortunate that its role had been obliterated.
“Dabengwa’s journey ended just before the country could turn 40 years, the same 40 years which the Bible tells us was travelled by the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan -the promised land.
“To the ex-ZIPRA veterans Dabengwa, would not want you right now to cry for him instead he is saying ‘cry for yourselves and your children’, who are the future generation of this country. Dabengwa has played his part but this tells us we must continue the journey until the country is truly liberated,” he said.