Fletcher Dulini Ncube: Principled, dependable to the end

HARARE - I first met Fletcher Dulini Ncube in 1999 during the early days in the processes of the formation of the MDC.

He was introduced to me by the late Gibson Sibanda at a meeting the three of us had with Paul Themba Nyathi and Esaph Mdlongwa. After Dulini Ncube was elected treasurer general of the MDC at its inaugural congress, we worked very closely together in my capacity as secretary general then.

Over the years we became very close friends notwithstanding that he was some 21 years older than me, him having been born in Hope Fountain on 9 January, 1940.

Dulini Ncube was, by far, the most principled and dependable person I have ever worked with.

When you went to war with him on your side there was never the need to cover your back!

You knew that no matter the circumstances, no matter the pain, no matter the cost, he will be there to the very end whatever that end would be.

This is a man who not only devoted his entire life to political struggle for freedom and liberty and a better life for all, but who carried on his person and body all the physical and emotional scars of his life long fights against the colonial racist

regimes and the Mugabe dictatorship — both of whom persecuted, prosecuted and incarcerated him for his political beliefs. Not only did he lose his sight arising directly from his incarceration and denial of basic medical rights as a prisoner by the Mugabe regime on accusations of crimes he never committed and could have never committed but the illnesses which finally took his life were also directly linked to the cruel and often inhuman treatment he received while incarcerated.

Not once did he ever show any fear. Not once did he ever allow them to down his spirit.  I remember too his gentle dignity, his amazing strength, his elderly and comforting maturity to his rather young co-accused (except for ubaba uMasera) in the Cain Nkala murder trial when they deprived him of his true identity and  became accused number so and so. Then and always ubaba uDulini was devoid of any traces of bitterness.

The great irony of  the life of ubaba uDulini lay in that even though he spent the greater part of his young adult life in the trenches of the nationalist struggle for freedom, liberty and peace and in Ian Smith’s prisons and detention camps such as Wha Wha and Gonakudzingwa, independence gave him neither freedom nor peace. His entire life thus became a life long struggle for basic human rights.

Dulini was not a man for expediency, he was not a man of political correctness, he was never a coward, he knew no limits to pain. He was at all times, good and bad, a man of unyielding principle. Any man who sought to get him to bend principle for convenience or political correctness or to avoid discomfort or pain or to achieve unprincipled compromise would invariably be at the receiving end of his stern tongue with his favourite expression, “You have a better chance of getting pregnant than me doing that”, an expression he used often to put down any attempt to get him to abandon principle.

Dulini was also a great story teller. I remember the long hours we spent together driving to many meetings and rallies. He would narrate their exploits and the dare devil missions they carried out as young revolutionaries in the pressure group Umgandane. 

From those anecdotal stories it was clear that as a young man he had faced enormous risks not just of arrest and torture but death.  Dulini had a fine political mind.

The one lesson I struggled to learn from his quiet and gentle counsel was the ability to listen and listen and to speak piercingly loudly through silence. In our meetings none listened more than he did. None ever understood with his depth. None could speak two sentences and capture so much. When Dulini spoke, not one word was wasted. He always spoke firmly, honestly, without fear or favour.

No one had a better political instinct. No one had a better understanding of the fallibility of humanity. No one hated treachery more.

 

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