Sun sets for broadcasting icon: A tribute to Ray Chirisa

Ray Chirisa

SOME days the sun does not just set with its last purple-yellow haze on the Zimbabwean horizon; it takes some legends with it, not to rise up with them the next day.

Such was the situation on Saturday afternoon when the legendary Ray Watson Chirisa, who was so much loved within family, extended family, community and professions, was laid to rest at the Norton cemetery in Zimbabwe.

According to his daughter Michelle: “Baba was based in the UK from year 2000 and had gone back home to Norton in March 2020 to settle. Ray had visited the UK in November 2021 and experienced a stroke in January 2022. He was then also diagnosed with colon and liver cancer during the same month.”

His health deteriorated from then. He was in hospital from March 19, 2022. He was later transferred to Hospice in Kent, UK, where he passed away on the April 7, 2022. He is survived by his wife Shingairai, eight children, 11 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, said Michelle.

The London New Eltham Branch of the Methodist Church  in Zimbabwe Fellowship (MCZF-UK) held a memorial service during the Holy Week leading to Easter led by Reverend Adam Nyawo.

“I saw Mr Chirisa during his last days and accompanied him on his journey to meet God, and we successfully did the ritual that reconciled him with his creator,” said Rev Nyawo speaking on the video conferencing platform Zoom, on which the service was held to cater for the world-wide audience.

The service, to consol the widow Shingairai and her family was extended into interactions and commiserations among family, friends, siblings, extended family and relatives, mostly from Canada, UK and Zimbabwe.

It was an additional two hours of heartfelt tributes. Speaker after speaker poured out their grief and love for the departed Ray. There were more than 200 gadgets connected to Zoom, and several were serving multiple people in households, therefore, approximately 250-300 people attended.

As I had landed the much revered task of master of ceremonies for the rest of the session, I accorded John Matinde a work colleague during Chirisa’s TV and radio broadcasting days, an opportunity to give his tribute.

Matinde had earlier written on Zoom notes: “Like a comet blazing across the evening sky, Ray Cee, you’ve gone too soon my pal. Words are not enough. Heartfelt condolences to family and friends gathered.”

On my part, I had interacted with sekuru Ray fairly frequently for about four decades from the Harare days to the UK up to the time of his death. During these years, he led my delegation during marriage and wedding ceremonies of my daughters.

He also made frequent trips to visit me in the West Midlands from London after I was hospitalised for a long time in recent years following a life-threatening injury.

My mother was the eldest of the Chirisa girls of Ray’s generation. His eldest sibling whom he came after, Mrs Masanganise was one of my mother’s ‘younger sisters’ in this closely knitted clan.

We have lost a good man who to me had become father, mother, sekuru, brother and friend. An icon, a legend, indeed, is gone. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace.

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