By Mhlomuli Ncube
The echoes of a Lovemore Majaivana song reverberate across the streets of Bulawayo. As the Bulawayo legend’s song uTitshala plays on, there is visible emotion among many.
“Sefil’ uGegege, utishala wethu. Noma libuhluza lizobuzwelwa ngubani….,” loosely translated to, “the people’s teacher has died, even when you are finally sieving your beer for final consumption, who will now verify its taste for you?’’ Therein lies the story of a man regarded as a teacher by many. It was in politics that the late National Hero Dr Dumiso Dabengwa imparted deep knowledge; it was also in the social that he did so and it was also in many other facets of life that he earned respect as a leader. When Vice President Kembo Mohadi gave a summation of how he knew the man also referred to as DD, he gave a description befitting one who over the years has been called the “Intelligence Supremo.”
“When I joined the struggle he was the Director of Intelligence and that is the Department I was under so he was my Commander. Thereafter then he was assigned to be the Secretary to the Revolutionary Council. Then Ethan Dube took over but when Ethan disappeared, he came back again and became my Commander. So he has been my Commander in many ways and in the sense that he was in the struggle before me,” said VP Mohadi.
This is not the only testimony which has come through from the depths of a fellow cadre’s knowledge. Many have testified how the national hero they called the Black Russian was a larger than life character to them. Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube another fellow struggle cadre called him, “indoda ekade iyindoda emadodeni, “meaning he was a man among men.
To Cde Angeline Masuku, another woman of the struggle, when one recalls who Dabengwa was, the story is about, “nxa kukhulunywa ngestruggle seZimbabwe hatshi ukusekela ukulwela iZimbabwe kodwa ukulwela iZimbabwe kukhulunywa ngoDabengwa, “meaning if we are talking about the struggle for Zimbabwe, fighting for the liberation of Zimbabwe not supporting that cause but being that cause, we are talking about Dabengwa.
Such moving tributes have also transcended into Dr Dabengwa’s social life. A former school mate in 1958 who attended Tegwane in Plumtree with the late national hero has given a moving account. Ms Mevana Ncube says DD was known for intelligence, hygienic standards and a lovely smile. “He loved me and called me his young sister. In return, I called him brother. He had a sweet spirit.”
The mention of a sweet spirit was beautifully woven by DD’s eldest daughter Ijeoma Dabengwa. “My dad was just a sweet guy. Those hugs that love, that attention and affection he gave us. But most of all, we saw him lavishing affection to my mum,” beamed the hero’s daughter as she recounted her father’s legacy.
The cross-cutting nature of people across the political, religious and racial divide has also been nothing short of amazing. DD certainly lives in the hearts of many regardless of differences. Summed up in the words of Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo, Dumiso Dabengwa did not know how to hate.
“He was one of the greatest revolutionaries of all time, a man of purpose, a man of destiny. He never had time for gossip, he didn’t believe in any existence of a tribe, region, race or creed. To him, humanity was supreme. He was a man who was very humble but very deep in thinking, a mentor to many freedom fighters. “
As these tributes continued pouring in, one could not be blamed for drawing conclusions that through his works, the Black Russian immortalised himself. There was no single soul who doubted that this hero of undisputable credentials was deserving of the honor accorded to him. No jury could even deliberate without reaching a unanimous decision. From the highest office in the land to the ordinary men and women on the streets and villages of Zimbabwe, the memory of an almost immortal being shines. This was the man they called the Black Russian.