“Chief, can I have copy chief?” That statement will always ring bells in my ears. I remember when you were still on the business desk, you would always ask for copy (stories) from me.
OBITUARY BY GARIKAI TUNHIRA
That was before you moved to Zimpapers’ Bulawayo-based daily, The Chronicle, in March this year, where you were now heading the business desk. Before you went to Bulawayo, you would come close and whisper: “Chief, zvakaoma.” (Things are tough. There is no copy).
I remember that when I was on the night shifts, you would sometimes drop me off at home in Warren Park I on your way to The Lake, as we used to call Rydale Ridge Park, because of its proximity to Lake Chivero.
On Sundays when your team Dynamos was playing any other team in the league, you and Cliff Chiduku, one of our sub editors, were a menace in the newsroom.
And your combination with NewsDay assistant editor Conway Tutani was the worst to imagine as far as Dynamos matters were concerned.
You, Mafira, would be the first to taunt either Moses Matenga or Kamurai Mudzingwa, our chief sub editor, whenever Dynamos was ahead of Highlanders on the Premier Soccer League log table.
And each time Dynamos scored, you would do a Matenga Act – running up and down the newsroom in jubilation.
Your workstation was directly under the television set in the newsroom, so you never sat there on Sundays between 3pm and 5pm each time DeMbare was playing.
And you favoured most the zora butter dance, worse when DeMbare scored.
And nostalgia kills me more when I remember that more often on Sundays, you would come to the office clad in a pair of shorts and a muscle top, and you would do press ups to celebrate a Dynamos goal.
Or you would edit the stories quickly to make time for the stadium.
That was you.
That was the Mernat Mafirakurewa I knew, with a “w” and not a “v”.
And so last Thursday at around 10am, I got the disturbing news that you had passed on.
Details were sketchy, so I tried former workmate Melissa Mpofu’s mobile phone number and it wouldn’t go through.
I then tried news editor Patrice Makova’s number and he confirmed that indeed you had passed on in a head-on car accident near Beatrice along the Harare-Masvingo Road the previous night.
A day before you passed on, another scribe Zech “Zechswag” Nemadire had died after he was murdered on his way home in Bluff Hill. My condolences to the family and the media fraternity over the sad and untimely loss . . .
But I will dwell more on you Mafira for I actually got more acquainted with you.
Before I joined NewsDay, we had never met.
And so on April 2 2012 when I walked into that newsroom and was introduced by then Alpha Media Holdings human resources manager Loud Ramakgapola, you were the first to say: “Aah, so it’s you. Now I know the face.”
I, on my part, was elated to finally pair your name and your face.
Then you were NewsDay acting business editor, and so that was when I would nag you with my agriculture stories.
What struck me most about you, Chief, was that you always found it better to burn out than to fade away.
You always wanted to take issues by the gonads. You always chased issues to the ground.
I remember you would always say: “Chief, you are getting us late. I have a home to go to. My family is waiting.”
During the morning and afternoon diary conferences, you always had something to say — always contributing — all because you wanted a better-packaged paper the next morning.
Whether it was sport, entertainment, news, you always contributed. You made the debates lively. You always jolted people into action.
At times you were strict, not because you had personal vendettas with people, but because of the nature of your job as a news editor.
For a fact, you lived by the “when you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die” rule. So in essence, you always opted for the former.
Being a seasoned journalist that you had become, with 11 years’ experience in the fraternity, you had grown to know what it meant to burn out than fade away.
I remember one day when we had a staff meeting with AMH chairman Trevor Ncube, you looked at him straight in the face and told him of the staff’s concerns.
I would say you never negotiated out of fear, but you never feared to negotiate. That was your weapon.
You knew what it meant that “absolute silence leads to sadness”. It is the “image of death”, as 18th century French composer, philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau put it across.
So over the two years that we worked together, we had set our feet on the character-understanding path. We always wanted to know the better of the other.
It had to be done, but your move to Bulawayo was an unfortunate one for me, for you gave me the moral support I needed when I was down.
I remember last year when I went through the worst of moments, days later you drove me home.
I told you of how I had tried to come out of the situation, though scathed, but not moved into action by emotion, you said to me: “There wasn’t any better way even I would have resolved it.”
Yes, we all walk different paths, but end up at one destination – death.
It is the details of how we live and how we eventually die that distinguish us from the next person. And it was how you lived every day that I always emulated and will always do.
You always wanted the best for your family first, and then always had a helping hand for the next man. You would always say, “I’m almost done with my house”.
But it was how you died that you didn’t deserve such a brutal ending. Today we weep, we mourn your passing on. You are gone today Mafira, but you are not gone Comrade.
At 33, you were too young to leave us, albeit God saw it otherwise.
Yes, we laid you to rest at Warren Hills Cemetery on Saturday, I know we just left the cadaver there.
I have reason to believe that your soul walked us back home. If only I could die for you, though I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, live for you.
In your death, a part of me died and went with you. Wherever you go, I’ll also go. And it will be so with everyone whose lives you touched. You will not be alone brother. So every event in life that happens is an opportunity to choose love over fear. You chose to love those around you.
The fraternity will always remember your name and your works.
Hambani ngokuthula, fambai zvakanaka mukoma Mafira and Zechswag.
You did your duty! You penned your life the journalistic way, and you always questioned every ending of a story.
Yes you had no choice, but Comrade: “Is this how you chose to end your story (life)?”