Friday, January 25, 2013

(ZIMPAPERS ZW) VP Nkomo: The family man

VP Nkomo: The family man
Saturday, 19 January 2013 21:17
Lincoln Towindo

“Our father was not the typical family man who returns home every night after work, or one who takes his chil­dren to school every morning. “In a sense, we had a father but never had a ‘father’ since we rarely enjoyed his presence.” Jabulani Nkomo, the son of Vice-President John Landa Nkomo, was close to tears yesterday as he recounted the few moments he

enjoyed with his father during his liv­ing years.
Many have described him as a com­mitted leader, a fountain of knowl­edge, a unifier, a public servant and a man of the people, among other colourful adulations.

But, sadly for his family, they were condemned to sharing such qualities — in most cases at a disadvantage — with millions of other people.
But it is not with regret that his fam­ily looks back at the revolutionary’s life.
“Such was his commitment to fight­ing for the cause of liberating his peo­ple that we as his family had resigned to foregoing his regular companion­ship,” said Jabulani.
“We, however, came to understand that we had a political person for a father who would not stop at any cost until his vision of delivering a free Zimbabwean people was a reality.
“He always told us that everyone has a time to come and a time to go, but what matters is what you actually do when you are around.
“Although we are still trying to come to terms with what has hap­pened, we are proud that we still have memories of his vast achievements and we will do all within our power to hold on to those memories.”
According to Cde Nkomo’s brother, Mr Sam Sipepa Nkomo, the late Vice-President’s leadership qualities and wisdom were a direct result of his astute upbringing. He was educated in the rare arts of humility, compassion, empathy and grace.
“My brother was a giant and today a giant has fallen,” he said.
“He was born a natural leader even from the days when we were growing up he would always stand shoulders above all his peers.
“The family has been devastated by such a harsh blow and will struggle to come to terms with the situation.
“He has always played the role of a father — a leader, but what struck me the most was his willingness to tolerate unity in diversity.
“As you know, we are members of different political parties, but he never allowed such a situation to upset family unity.”
However, for Jabulani, the memories from the days of the liberation struggle when his father was fre­quently in detention, in hiding or out of the country, remain the most poignant.
For a child who was barely an adult, it was a night­mare having to deal with news that his father was a wanted “terrorist”.
He remembers visiting Tsholotsho to alert the rest of the family that his father had actually survived a assas­sination attempt and was recovering in hospital.
“I remember arriving at our rural home only to find that a ‘funeral’ wake was already under way,” he said.
“They all thought I was hiding the truth from them until a friend of my father brought pic­tures of him recovering in hospital to Tsholotsho.”
As thousands of relatives, friends and colleagues of the late Vice-President thronged his Milton Park home in Harare yesterday to pay their last respects, an air of oneness was palpable.
Even in death, he managed to unite the nation.
MDC-T secretary-general and Finance Minister Mr Tendai Biti led a delegation from his party.
“He was a fatherly figure for all of us in the inclusive Government such that we could look up to him for the provisions of answers to difficult situations.
“His humane and accommodative character made him accessible to people from different persua­sions and races,” said Mr Biti.
Jabulani summed up the sad last days of the late rev­olutionary: “What is sad for us is that in the days lead­ing to his death, we were beginning to notice signs of recovery, but God had his way.”
Cde Nkomo made a seamless transition from being a firebrand trade unionist to liberation politics and, sub­sequently, going into Government.
Vice-President Nkomo died at St Anne’s Hospital on Thursday last week after a long battle with can­cer.
He will be buried tomorrow at the National Heroes’ Acre.

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