President mourns friend of the revolution, Sister Mclaughlin

by | Mar 12, 2021 | Local News | 0 comments

By Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa joined Catholics in mourning Sr. Janice McLaughlin, who passed away in Maryknoll, New York, United States of America on the 7th of March 2021.
A sister of the Maryknoll Order, Sister Janice came and served in Zimbabwe when it was Rhodesia and spoke in our favour of the Liberation struggle against the racist and segregationist colonial regime.

President Mnangagwa said that the news that Sister Janice, who was deported from Rhodesia in 1977 after 18 days in solitary confinement on accusations of being a communist subversive and kaffir lover, came to him as a great shock.
Her real crime was opposing racial colonial occupation and injustices against the majority black people of this country.

Instead of settling in her native America for a life of comfort, she chose instead to journey back to Africa, this time Mozambique to join rough and dangerous camp life in the jungles of Mozambique where she worked in the ZANU-run ZANLA camps working in ZANU’s Department of Education.

She also worked with the department of Information and Publicity where she gave an enhanced international voice and reach. The nadir of her contributions was an interview with General Josiah Magama Tongogara, Commander of ZANLA.

Sr. Janice whose doctoral thesis related to front-line missionary work in African struggles for independence, a subject she was an actual participant, returned to the newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980 this time on invitation from the new Government in Harare.
She embraced and championed the educational literacy drive that would vault Zimbabwe to star recognitions by the United Nations Cultural and Scientific Organisation-UNESCO.
She was a key member of the team that harnessed the organisational flare spawned by the war effort to the cause of building schools and training teachers across the land and helped reshape school curricular in the newly free country.

She was also instrumental, with the late Colonel Herbert Mahlaba, to foster relations between the peoples of Mozambique and Zimbabwe under Zimbabwe-Mozambique Friendship Association, ZIMOFA.

Sister Janice was born in Pittsburg, USA, 79 years ago and her mission to serve where she would serve was inspired by seeing pictures of giraffes in National Geographic.
This is according to Robert Ellsburg, the publisher of Orbis Books who published one of her books called, “Ostriches, Dung Beatles and Other Spiritual Masters: A Book of Wisdom from the Wild,” which she based on her observations and experiences in Africa.

Maryknoll Father Joe Healy who celebrated a mass for her repose on the March 7 said,
“Janice went to Kenya in 1969 to serve in the social communications department of the Kenya Catholic Conference of Bishops. We worked together for over 50 years throughout eastern Africa. We shared a passion to train Africans in the different media of social communications and to hand over our ministries to the local church.”

Sister Janice served for a term as the president of the Maryknoll Ssiters starting in 2009.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, have also sent a message of condolence at the passing on of Sister Janice ,ZNLWVA Chairperson Cde. Christopher Mutsvangwa wrote;

“The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association has received the news of the passing on of Sister Janice McLaughlin at the New York headquarters of the Maryknoll Sisters Catholic Order with shock, sadness and pain.

Sister Janice had a deep and abiding love of Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular. She used her devout Christian faith to boldly and fearlessly fight for the just cause of African freedom and independence.

Sister Janice first came to Rhodesia in 1977 just when the Chimurenga armed struggle of ZANLA-ZIPRA was gathering decisive momentum.”

Cde Mutsvangwa, who worked with Sr. Janice under Cde Charles Ndlovu( Cde Webster Shamu ) in The Information and Publicity Department of ZANU in Mozambique recounted her deep and abiding love for the independence of our people and nation. Sister Janice whose interview with General Josiah Magama Tongogara was published for the outside world by the “Zimbabwe News” and aired on the Voice of Zimbabwe Radio Mozambique helped to dispel the image of the venerated ZANLA general as “blood-thirst communist terrorist” as peddled by racist Rhodesian propaganda to a facile and gullible Western audience.

For her role in the struggle for Zimbabwe, the ZNLWVA have indicated that they will be writing to President Mnangagwa to bestow a fitting recognition for Sister Janice.