Remembering Mama Mafuyana

An embodiment  of the quiet  but unbending dignity of an African princess; born and married to the turbulence of the struggle, never to enjoy the physical company of her husband  and accepting that she could lose or cede her husband to the struggle, made her a virtual widow.

 

 

 

ZBC News crew goes through the trials and tribulations that Mama Mafuyana went through in her endeavor to support her husband; the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo  as he prosecuted the struggle.

 

Born in Matobo on September 18 1927, Cde Joanna Nkomo’s upbringing was richly grounded in African culture and values which prepared her for her future role as wife to a leading founder and maker of our nation.

 

She attended St Joseph’s Primary School and Emhandeni before proceeding to work for the Dominican Sisters Convent in Bulawayo as a girl’s matron.

 

This was when she met her lifetime partner, Dr Joshua Nkomo who was then in his early 30s. The two then tied the knot in 1949 and moved to start a new life in the railway compound near Bulawayo.

 

Sadly, the couple lost their first child Temba but they were later blessed with 4 children, Thandiwe Barbara, Ernest Thunani, Michael Sibangilizwe and Loise Sehlule.

 

Behind the illustrious revolutionary commitment and leadership of the late Father Zimbabwe; was this steadfast mother of the nation, Mama Mafuyana who scoffed at risks and made enormous scarifies which have remained untold.

 

With the husband’s life fluctuating between long spells in detention and risky missions of the struggle, the burden of raising the family was hers. Single handedly, she fended for the family ensuring that the children secured decent upbringing and decent education. 

 

Her strength and resourcefulness as a mother released her husband from family chores giving him precious time to focus on leading and prosecuting the struggle.

 

As she was married to the struggle, her motherly love was national as it went beyond her immediate family to embrace young cadres to and from various training camps and refugee centres.

 

Mama Mafuyana’s matrimonial association with a figure who nagged the colonial authorities made her a prime target of the colonial regime. 

 

At one time, Mama Mafuyana was raided at her Pelandaba home by a unit of the Southern Rhodesia special branch.  In March 1977, Mama Joanna Nkomo had to leave the country for her safety and that of the children after the colonial regime tried to kidnap the 13 year old Sehlule. 

 

At independence, up to her death, Mama Mafuyana worked for the unity of all Zimbabweans; mostly for the welfare of underprivileged children through the child survival and development foundation.

 

It was her dedication to catering for the poor and the underprivileged, and her steadfast commitment to the cause of the Zimbabwean people which made her departure on the 3rd of June 2003 a sad loss to the nation.  She is buried at the national shrine.

 

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