Independence Special: The Torment of COVID-19

by | Apr 8, 2021 | COVID 19, Local News, Opinions | 0 comments

By Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa

29 July 2020, two weeks before the country celebrated Heroes Day and National Defence Forces Day, we woke up to the groans, wailing, hissing and shuffling of Mathias Xavier.

The eerie lament that is accompanied by an acoustic guitar is the song ‘Tormented Soul’ a tribute to the late Mozambican President Samora Moises Machel, which Zimbabwe adopted as an announcement of the death of a national hero or the on coming Heroes Day commemoration.

The song is only matched by Moyo Wangu Watsidza Kufira Zimbabwe, a song which was sung soon after Operation Dingo and the death of thousands at Chimoio. That at least the other song is vocalised makes it a little bearable. Tormented Soul is all groans and moans and is a hallmark of pain.

Sadly, the song was not announcing the upcoming holidays or commemorations but the death of a son of the soil, a Minister of government, a retired Air Chief Marshal, and a hero of our Independence struggle.

Cde Bigboy Samson Chikerema whose nom-de-guerre Perrance Shiri had become his official name was no more. Muturikwa or Gudo Guru, as he was fondly known among his close confidants, had succumbed to the deadly Covid-19 virus. A painful way to go by all accounts.

Two weeks before he would have been saluted by his ‘boys’ as a former Air Force chief during National Defence Forces Day, he was buried amidst the absence of the vociferous crowds that usually gather at the National Shrine to bury such illustrious sons of the soil. At the time of his death, he was the nation’s Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.

Not one of us anticipated that before even the tears for Minister Shiri had dried would our souls be tormented, not once but five times by Covid-19 as it fit accompanied the Grim Reaper on his grim mission.

All the victims, veterans of our struggle, three of them being decorated military men, generals no less. On 20 January 2021, we lost the man who announced the ushering in of the New Dispensation Lt-Gen (Rtd) Dr. Sibusiso Busi Moyo, our Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Forty-eight hours later, the situation had indeed moved to another level as we would lose both Transport Minister, Dr. Joel Biggie Matiza and former Prisons Boss, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Paradzai Zimondi, aka Tonderai Nyika, within hours of each other, both from Covid-19 related complications.
They were both from Mashonaland East as was Muturikwa Shiri.







All three were buried in a sombre atmosphere at the iconic National Heroes Acre.

We had lost Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba hardly a week earlier, on 15 January to the same dreaded Corona Virus. She too was a veteran of the liberation struggle and had been Resident and Devolution Minister of Manicaland Province.

She was buried in a double burial with Cde Morton Malianga, a veteran nationalist and a son of Manicaland.

The last of the generals to be struck was the then Ambassador to Mozambique, Lt. Gen(Rtd) Douglas Nyikayaramba.

Before his retirement from the Army in 2019 was Chief of Staff responsible for Administration. He ultimately became the fourth retired general to succumb to Covid-19, and indeed to whom the sound of Tormented Soul was played and still plays in our ears to this day.

It has been a painful period indeed and only the song Tormented Soul aptly captures the pain that we still endure from the death of Muturikwa right up to Chikandamina Nyikayaramba.

May the dear, brave and patriotic souls of these men and woman rest in peace as we go into another Independence season.