Tuesday, August 16, 2011

R.I.P Rex Nhongo

Late last night I learnt with shock and horror of the untimely death of Gen Solomon Mujuru. He was the 1st commander of Zimbabwe's integrated Armed Forces after independence in 1980, and helped integrate the then separate Rhodesian, Zanla and Zapu elements into a unified force. I was a young lad in England in 1979, when I first saw  "Rex Nhongo" (as he was then named) on British TV. It was the Christmas holidays and all of us, family and friends, were crowded around the TV to watch the triumphant return of the first batch of Zanla and Zipra commanders to return home. I was expecting to see the tall and bearded Josiah Tongogara, but alas, he was never to make it. In his place strolled the smiling Rex Nhongo at the head of the Zanla contingent.

I would later have the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions in the late 80s and mid 90s. He was very humble, didn't talk much, and when he did talk, he talked with a pronounced lisp. He was not the stereotypical soldier that immediately comes to mind. He was also a good drinker and loved his scotch. He hailed from Chikomba (my home district) and after retiring from the army, served as our Member of Parliament from 1994  to 2000.

True, he had his faults, but in the main, he was good man. Sabre-rattling was never his thing; he always respected the civilian politicians in power, and he knew his limits. With only a limited education, he had graduated from the school of hard-knocks and the university of life, rather than from any academic institutions. He was a true Zimbabwean hero, and a gallant freedom-fighter. May his soul forever rest in peace. Gamba redu: mufambe zvakanaka.

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