LOSS takes many shapes and likewise the death of Zimbabwe’s founding President Cde Robert Mugabe undeniably evoked contrasting emotions for many people across the country and beyond.
For a Bulawayo-based war veteran Pendros Mfugami Gumbo, who took the city by storm with his spartan, virtually rickety 1978 model Datsun 120Y displaying a huge portrait of Cde RG Mugabe on the roof of his car, the untimely death of the former President robbed him of his great life-time wish.
Cde Gumbo from Queens Park suburb and a Zipra war veteran, said the death of Cde RG Mugabe hit him harder than he expected and subsequently denied him his most cherished wish of meeting him one-on-one and shake his hand.
Speaking to B-Metro, Cde Gumbo (63) tearfully bared his soul saying he was always fervently praying that his death (RG Mugabe) must not come before he meets him one-on-one.
As testimony for his undying love for Cde RG Mugabe he was christened, “Mugabe’s number one fan”.
As fate would have it, that priceless moment which Cde Gumbo long wished would never be fulfilled after the icon of liberation breathed his last on 6 September, 2019 at the age of 95.
“I was shocked upon hearing the news of his untimely demise. I’m still in tears. We will definitely miss him. Although he has been unwell for some time I never expected his death to be very soon. We have lost one of the best teachers. Many people wished for his death but I was always asking God to preserve him until I meet him one-on-one.
“This is because I tried several times to meet him when he was still in the office but without success,” said a teary Cde Gumbo leaning against his Datsun 120Y with the portrait of Cde RG Mugabe emblazoned with the words, “rest in peace Cde Mugabe”.
He said he will forever remember fondly his ever cheerful and colourful language throughout his 37-year reign as leader of Zimbabwe.
“I will forever remember one of his most telling quotes at the Earth Summit in South Africa in 2002 when he denounced Tony Blair: ‘We have fought for our land, we have fought for our sovereignty, small as we are we have won our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood . . . ‘So, Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe’”.
Cde Gumbo was born and bred in Gweru and he joined the liberation struggle in 1978 when he crossed to Zambia where he was briefly trained before he returned home during the ceasefire agreement at the beginning of December 1979.
“I liked the man because he can stand up in every situation and he would stand for what he believed was right for his people. As for us people in Bulawayo we are appealing to the Government to bring his body here before it’s taken to its final resting place so that we can also have the opportunity to pay our last respects to this man who will always be remembered as a principled, steadfast and courageous Pan-Africanist,” said Cde Gumbo.
Cde Gumbo said he placed the flag and the portrait on his car in 2010 encouraging people to lift Zimbabwe and their president high.
Besides the flag, the other striking article on his eye-catching colonial era blue car is a portrait of President Mnangagwa with a message “Team Zanu-PF”.
At the back of his car he also has a picture of the late Father Zimbabwe, Dr Joshua Nkomo. He said the country’s history would be incomplete without acknowledging the role Dr Nkomo played in liberating and developing it.