By Burzil Dube
A sombre atmosphere hung over the Lemba community following the recent death and interment of Reverend Raphael Tangawamira whose immeasurable deeds within Mberengwa district and nation at large will continue to be felt till eternity.
The senior Lutheran Church clergy man died on September 27 after a long battle with cancer of the liver and his burial, three days later, in Msume, Mberengwa was attended by multitudes of mourners including Local Government minister, July Moyo among other prominent individuals in the country’s political and religious divide.
His unifying deeds did not elude him even when the chips were down, but were exuded even when the casket was being lowered to his final resting place.
Various speakers paid homage to Tangawamira who once headed Chegato High School for more than 10 years and managed to place the institution among top 100 schools in Zimbabwe whose pass rate left other schools gaping in awe.
One such speaker was Takavafira Zhou whose eulogy concerning his fellow Lemba tribesman is currently trending on social media groups and continues to inspire communities to always cherish the works and ideals of this Lemba scion.
Yours Truly, has been given the nod by Zhou to reproduce his eulogium for the benefit of various followers of this column, which in the past ‘extensively’ covered aspects on how this tribe (Lemba/VaRemba) are considered to be part of the biblical Jews who migrated from the Middle East to present day Southern Africa.
Herewith is part of the abridged version of Zhou’s eulogy.
“Reverend Tangawamira was a pillar of strength in the Lutheran Church and as a family man. He is the only Lemba to have taught and headed all Lutheran Church secondary schools in Mberengwa, viz, Mnene, Msume, Masase and Chegato.
“He was born on 14 June 1949 in a Lemba, Madi family of Mberengwa. As was the case with many Lemba boys then, he was a herdboy and delayed schooling,”
Zhou went on to state that the late Lemba scion decided to join pastorhood within the church.
He also joined the education sector after completing his university education and later became a graduate teacher at Msume Secondary in the early 1980s.
Thus became his epic movement to various Lutheran Church administered secondary schools within Mberengwa district.
“On his burial day, I want to remind all and sundry that he fulfilled the Lemba-Lutheran Church colonial agreement. After Lemba resistance on sending their children to Mnene to receive education because of fear of them eating meat not kosher killed, an agreement was made to build schools specifically for the Lemba. Schools such as Msume, Chegato and Masase were constructed.
“Reverend Tangawamira navigated our agreement and legacy, a legacy that has been respected by current headmasters and reverends at the respective schools.
“Indeed he was a father to many of us, an advisor, mentor of great repute, an educationist with untramelled energy or strong will power, a farmer whose family never starved despite the arid region of Mberengwa.
“He was a brother to many, a dependable colleague in fighting against the trenches of folly and ignorance , a reputable reverend and a great Lemba leader.
“Go well Mushavi Madi, our father for you fought a good battle in your life time and in the process inspired many who would continue to exude your inspiration and channel their pent up forces and anger to meaningful direction.
“We will continue to cherish your works and inspiration Reverend, Mushavi, Madi.
Vakaringa mukadzi vakamubaira n’ombe,
Chigara Homba (brave men),
Chisingagari marume matyi (cowards),
Kushava rumbudzi mukadzi unofa,
Jerera Ra Madi,
In a crisp interview with Yours Truly, Zhou went on to state that the late Tangawamira was indeed a man of the people whose untired efforts would continue to be engraved within the Lemba community.
“To the best of my knowledge, he was a shrewd headmaster who believed in justice, perseverance, hardwork and discipline as the basis of success. He was firm but fair, ready to listen to students’ concerns but more concerned with good performance at the school and discipline.
“He was father figure to students who would take his time to talk to students, counsel them, encourage them to be disciplined and work hard in order to succeed.”
Fare thee well Lemba scion.
His name deserves to be inscribed in the Lemba Hall of Fame till we meet again in the next column
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