By Joseph Brian Madhimba
The passing on of prominent academic Claude Mararike is a huge loss to me and my family.
Mararike was a teacher, journalist, broadcaster, writer, researcher, sociologist, historian and ultimately university professor.
Affable, analytical, articulate, intelligent, unassuming and witty, Mararike was the quintessential university professor.
And yet, despite being a repository of so many human talents, he was a self-effacing personality.
I first met Mararike at ZBC Pockets Hill after independence. He had returned from Botswana where he worked as a print journalist.
I had come back from Montpellier, France where I studied journalism and worked for Agence France Presse.
I was a sub-editor and broadcaster on the English desk and Mararike was the head of news. We made an agreement that he would teach me Setswana and I would teach him French.
As my boss in the newsroom, he had confidence in my abilities, whenever there were documents to be translated from French into English, he would say,”Bvunzai Joe. Ndiye wakarava.” Some of my colleagues resented this.
Although I had learned the ropes of journalism in France, I gained immensely from Mararike’s counsel and wisdom.
He mentored and inspired me on my way to celebrity status. From him I learned the virtues of diligence, honesty and humility.
He warned me that broadcasting would make me famous, but I should not allow fame to go to my head.
Mararike was himself a paragon of humility.
As a journalist and broadcaster, he set very high standards, thereby blazing a new trail for others to follow.
Journalism was his second nature. He had an amazing command of the English language. Whenever I gave him my scripts to proofread, he meticulously made corrections and I could easily see the teacher in him.
He was indeed the ultimate teacher. As a mentor, Mararike was tactful.
I remember how he once attached the following note to one of my write-ups: “Dear Joe, Seeing as English is not our mother tongue, I have taken the liberty to make the following changes. If need be, we can meet to discuss them.” This was so disarming.
When I met Mararike in 2009, we discussed the situation at ZBC and agreed that the corporation had irretrievably gone to the dogs.
We reminisced how, during our heyday in broadcasting, there was no room for mediocrity at ZBC.
One had to excel in their job or perish.
I mean, the place was awash with talent — the likes of Grey Tichatonga, John Gambanga, Isidore Gwashure, Robin Shava, Busi Chindove, Everisto Mwatse, Patrick Nyamhunga, Temba Hove, Noreen Welch, Caleb Tondhlana, Dorcas Munyoro, Praxedes Dzangare, Temba Bassopo Moyo and the late Alice Chavunduka.
Mararike had a deep interest in society and human behaviour, hence his television programmes and writings on Shona culture.
He had an intellectual partner and friend in the late Professor Gordon Chavunduka.
Together, they produced several academic publications on the traditions and beliefs of the Shona people.
He encouraged me to have the guts to explore and develop the totality of my talents.
He argued that “the human race needs our individual talents.”
Because of his belief in human talents, Mararike reinvented his career a couple of times.
That inspired me to do the same, So I moved from journalism and broadcasting to academia and then financial markets.
When I left the ZBC to go into academia, he wrote,“I have no doubt that if you apply the same diligence and commitment you demonstrated in broadcasting, you will also excel in academia.” I will always cherish that compliment.
Fambai zvakanaka Museyamwa. Kana masvika ikoko kunyika dzimu, mumiririre mhuri yenyu nesu tose.
Fare thee well, Mhofu, You have left an enduring legacy. May your soul rest in eternal peace.
- Joseph Brian Madhimba is a Zimbabwean academic and former radio and television broadcaster.