President Mnangagwa mourns Father Ribeiro

by | Jun 18, 2021 | Local News | 0 comments

Brian Rungano Temba

President Mnangagwa last night sent a condolence message, mourning the passing of Catholic Priest Father Emmanuel Ribeiro.
Father Ribeiro passed after a short illness on Thursday June 18, 2021 at St Anne’s hospital in Harare, he was 86 years old.

He was one of the last prison Chaplains that ministered to incarcerated freedom fighters during the struggle for independence.

”Father Ribeiro’s service to the Catholic Church and to our country was long and eventful. From serving in the remote rural parishes, the late Father Ribeiro dedicated the later part of his ministry in colonial days to catering for the spiritual needs of many freedom fighters serving long prison terms,” said President Mnangagwa.

President Mnangagwa said that he is aware that by the time Father Ribeiro passed away, he was working on an assignment of tracing last steps of the numerous freedom fighters whose lives were shortened by the cruel penal system of settler governments.

“He also worked with singular dedication on reconstructing the lives and last moments of the famous Chinhoyi Seven, including tracing their families across the length and breadth of our country.
We owe him greatly for such key interventions which have gone quite some way in the reconstruction of narratives of our national struggles,” added the President.

Father Ribeiro was Assistant Chaplain-General of prisons at the time when President Mnangagwa and Mathew Malowa were in prison for bombing the Rhodesian locomotive at Fort Victoria (now Masvingo) railway station.
President Mnangagwa and other members of the Crocodile Gang were arrested and sentenced to death.

“In the case of condemned former prisoners like myself, his figure became one of the only contacts we had with the outside world,” President Mnangagwa added.

Father Ribeiro facilitated President Mnangagwa’s removal from death row. However, Victor Mlambo and James Dhlamini who were also members of the Crocodile Gang were hanged

“I mourn his passing as one of the few lucky ones he was able to rescue from the gallows, a development which makes his demise poignant and quite painful to me personally’” said the President.

President Mnangagwa paid homage to the late Catholic Father’s influence on the church’s relativity to African communities through composing hymns in the native languages of Zimbabwe.

“We drew from his unmatched skills as a song writer and an artist when we worked on our National Anthem and National Flag.
Alongside the late Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa and the late Solomon Mutsvairo, Father Ribeiro blazed the trail in employing National Languages for creative writing,” said President Mnangagwa.

President Mnangagwa said the loss of Father Ribeiro will be felt with deep pain and grief and as a Party , ZANU-PF and as Government they mourn with the Ribeiro Family.
Other clerics of his order who passed on before him include Father Swift, Father Nyahwa and Father Mapondera.