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National hero Nkiwane gets befitting send-off

by Staff reporter
13 Jul 2021 at 08:07hrs | Views
A SOMBRE atmosphere engulfed Joyful Farm in Umguza District yesterday as people from all walks of life gathered at the farm to give the late national hero Abraham Dumezweni Nkiwane a befitting send-off.

Nkiwane (93) succumbed to prostate cancer at the Bulawayo United Hospitals (UBH) where he was admitted on Tuesday last week. Bra Nkie as he was affectionately known, was among the first freedom fighters to smuggle weapons into the then South Rhodesia in 1962, inspiring the protracted armed struggle. He was also one of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) pioneer leaders who was in charge of special affairs and training.

Nkiwane was buried at his farm in Umguza on the outskirts of Bulawayo. Due to Covid-19 related restrictions, just a few people among them Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ndlovu, her Matabeleland North counterpart Richard Moyo, Zanu-PF Politburo member Tshinga Dube, Bulawayo Senator Molly Mpofu, Nkayi South MP Stars Mathe, ex-ZPRA cadres and family members, witnessed the burial.

As the coffin was being lowered to the grave, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) One Infantry Brigade military brass band played soothing music that captured the mood of the occasion. Minister Moyo, acting on behalf of President Mnangagwa, laid the wreath soon after a family representative had done so.

President Mnangagwa presided over the triple burials held simultaneously, one of them virtually. This is the second time that President Mnangagwa has presided over the triple burial of national heroes as national heroes, Sibusiso Moyo, Joe Biggie Matiza and Paradzai Zimondi were buried on the same day at the National Heroes Acre in January this year.

Mourners at Nkiwane's burial followed the President's address virtually through big screens mounted at the homestead. Lieutenant-General Edzai Absolom Chimonyo, who was the commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, and war veteran Michael Chakabva also known as Vhuu were laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

In his address at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, President Mnangagwa said Nkiwane contributed immensely to the liberation of the country, saying his life was a depiction of selfless sacrifices and unflinching patriotism.

"The life story of the late Abraham Dumezweni Nkiwane, who passed away on 6 July 2021, can be traced back to the beginning of the militant period of early nationalism. Nkiwane helped facilitate the movement of arms from East Africa to cadres on the battle front," he said. "These courageous acts being among the first cadres to smuggle arms into the then Rhodesia in 1962, inspired many to follow in his footsteps. His life was a depiction of selfless sacrifices and unflinching patriotism which is worth emulating.'

The President said some of the weapons transported by Nkiwane were used in the 1967 Wankie (Hwange) and Sipolilo (Guruve) campaigns, which were joint special operations between ZPRA and Umkhonto we Sizwe.

"These were the same weapons which were used by commanders such as Cdes Ackim Ndlovu, Dumiso Dabengwa, Ethan Dube and Sikhwili Moyo among others," said the President.

He said Nkiwane, in his role and in collaboration with other commanders who laid the groundwork for the country's armed struggle, managed to secure training facilities for freedom fighters in countries such as Cuba, the then Soviet Union, Zambia, Tanzania, Egypt, Ghana and North Korea.

"The late national hero was later assigned to be chief of construction responsible for the PF-Zapu construction projects, one of which was the construction of underground air raid shelter at ZPRA headquarters in Lusaka," said President Mnangagwa.

Nkiwane's son, Mr Tod Nkiwane said his father was a unifier and pillar of strength who will forever be cherished.

"My father was a unifier, a pillar of strength and loving person. He was introduced to politics by the likes of Benjamin Burombo and Siphambano Khumalo in 1948 in Makokoba. He later moved to Livingstone in Zambia where he discovered that the politics in that country was ripe and subsequently joined the African National Congress," he said.

"When the party split and there was Zambian African National Congress led by Harry Nkumbula, my father remained with Kenneth Kaunda who later formed UNIP. He became a member of UNIP's Livingstone branch."

Mr Nkiwane said his father was later elevated and moved to Lusaka to work in the party's directorate of elections.

"In 1962, Dr Joshua Nkomo arrived in Lusaka and requested Nkiwane to work with him," he said.

Nkiwane was born on January 6, 1928 in Ntabazinduna in Matabeleland North and attended the Presbyterian Church's David Livingstone Primary School before proceeding to Thekwane Mission. He taught at Tjehanga School and was expelled along with others for their demand for justice in the manner the Methodist Church was running schools.

In 1949 he was employed by the Bulawayo Municipality working in the African Department under the directorship of Dr Hugh Ashton. In 1954 when Nkiwane was reading towards a Bachelor of Commerce degree, he left for Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) at the time of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which had been inaugurated in 1953.

Initially, he lived in Livingstone where he worked as stock controller in a company known as Rhodesia Mercantile Holdings until 1960.

In 1961, Nkiwane joined UNIP and later moved to Lusaka to work for the party fulltime. When Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo visited Zambia and asked Dr Kaunda to assist him identify a reliable person to work with, KK identified Nkiwane.

The veteran nationalist also worked hand in hand with first Frelimo commander in Zambia, transporting weapons from Tanzania to Lusaka, which were equally shared between ZPRA and Frelimo. Nkiwane is survived by wife Ntombizodwa, three children, two sons and a daughter, 16 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren.

Source - chronicle
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