Requiem for Save

HARARE - When Morgan Tsvangirai passed away on Valentine’s Day, the young nation came together to mourn its former Prime Minister. Tsvangirai received many eulogies from as far afield as Washington to Pretoria.

In fact, after news of his death spread, there were dozens of mourning ceremonies.

Even though government turned down requests for national hero status, it settled for a State-assisted funeral, with the former union leader’s remains airlifted to Humanikwa Village after a big send-off in Harare. The burial was witnessed by thousands,  including Tsvangirai’s friend and Kenya opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Even top guns in Zanu PF acknowledged that their political rival was in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of political life.

Born in 1952 to a bricklayer father in drought-prone Buhera, in the southeast of Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai prematurely ended his studies at Gokomere Mission to support his siblings.

The eldest of nine children, Tsvangirai worked at a textile mill in Mutare in the country’s east, and later joined a nickel mine in Bindura, a town in the north.

After Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, Tsvangirai became branch chairperson of the National Mine Workers Union, rising through the ranks to become secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in 1988.

Under his leadership, the labour federation challenged economic policies and a lack of democracy in the 1990s in Zimbabwe.

In well-coordinated and crippling national strikes, workers staged street protests against meagre salaries, rising inflation, rampant corruption and deepening poverty.

He relinquished that post, however, when he formed the MDC in 1999.

Indeed, Tsvangirai was pious, humane, temperate, and sincere; dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting.

Tsvangirai’s death stunned the nation including government and the ruling Zanu PF.

Sadly, there were unecessary bitter exchanges that sullied his funeral.

All the same, he got a befitting send-off, with his funeral train leaving for the Freedom Square for a huge-send-off and back to his village, retracing the route he had taken when he travelled to Harare to take up a job at the ZCTU.

Tsvangirai was loved by many as he helped lead the nation through the depression and dark period of post-2008 economic hardships during the GNU.

Despite all the bitter fighting that characterised his funeral,  for me it remains only to say that in Tsvangirai, there died the greatest Zimbabwean friend we have ever known and the greatest champion of freedom who has ever brought help and comfort to this country. He was like the biblical Moses. The MDC now needs a Joshua to complete his journey.

Hundreds of thousands of words have been published, and hundreds of thousands more have been spoken into the microphones since Tsvangirai was struck down by cancer, but none of them were really adequate.

Words never are adequate in the face of senseless tragedy.

Words cannot describe how the Zimbabwean people felt when they lost their opposition leader.

Not until the vacuum of disbelief was filled with the horror of comprehension did any of us realise how much we identified ourselves, even apart from personal friendship, with the MDC leader — this pro-democracy fighter and vigorous political veteran who jad so much love for Zimbabweans and their well-being.

Rest in peace Save.

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