Day to remember journalists

HARARE - Some of us have been involved in incidents, as journalists, which contained the elements of the bizarre as well as the frightening.

We three happened to have landed well-paying jobs in the same foreign city.

I was still in newspapers, but the two were not. In fact, they were in high-paying corporate jobs.

In an executive newspaper position, I was obliged to work late — I had to put the newspaper to sleep, as it were. Only when I had checked every sentence and spelling — or nearly that — would I sign off each page.

We were close friends from back home. So, a phone call from either of them in the middle of the night was not entirely strange.

But this was unusual: she wanted me to come to their house in a cute suburb of the city.

I had to establish this was not something to do with a fashion or a cookery sensation she was anxious to share with my wife.

“No,” she said with deadly earnestness.

“I’ll be right there.” I arranged for my immediate assistant to take care of things while I attended to this rather urgent matter.

She was sitting dejectedly in the sitting room, all the signals of death and destruction around her. She pointed to what I knew to be the nursery, without further ado.

I was directed to a cot in which a baby lay, seeming rather still at the very first sight. I examined the scene. I immediately  turned to her in shock.

“Yes, she is dead,” she said, as heartlessly as if it was no particular interest to her. I kept looking at her.

“He says it is not his baby,” she said, hardly able to suppress a cry.

I almost felt like jumping off my skin. They had always been such a loving couple. Their first child was a beautiful girl.

Apart from being a journalist, I am a short story writer and novelist, to boot. My brain is roaring with plots and subplots. But right then, I was terrorised with a blank mind.

I was told the true story much later on. She developed a deadly tumour and passed on a few years later.

He died in a deadly car accident.

Until now, I have never told this story.

There are other odd stories I could tell, but most of them are too chilling for retelling.  Most of them would be too personal to succumb to neutrality.

My feeling is that, as journalists we should get together and retell the bloodiest stories in which we have been involved.

Any such story by Lupi Mushayakarara would make fascinating reading.

Zimbabwean journalists, some of them young, have lost their lives in assignments which would have been performed with more dignity and care by experienced men and women of the pen.

There have also been incidents of journalists being penalised for the wrong reasons. One or two have succumbed to severe punishment for being wrongfully accused of having caused an incident in which they were not entirely involved in.

In other incidents, some authorities have decided, on the flimsiest evidence, that an innocent junior reporter ought to be blamed — as long as their senior editor refused to back them up — for their own selfish reasons.

Then there is the absolutely “cooked up” evidence against journalists who may have investigated a story to its very roots, until there was no doubt that someone in high office in the government had done the deed.

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