Harare property developer Kenneth Raydon Sharpe has spoken of how he came to know God after a skiing accident in Canada 10 years ago where he made a dramatic recovery.
Sharpe (KS), who is the chief executive officer of WestProp, appeared on the platform In Conversation with Trevor, which is hosted by Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN).
The owner of Augur Investments, which was behind the construction of the Harare Airport Road, spoke on a wide range of issues, including land deals with the Harare City Council.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
TN: Kenneth Raydon Sharpe, this is the first time I am getting to know that your middle name is Raydon, and I love middle names.
Welcome to In Conversation With Trevor.
KS: Thank you Trevor, it is really exciting to be on your show this morning on this beautiful rainy day in Harare.
TN: And Raydon? Where does Raydon come from?
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KS: It is a nice story so you won't believe this either, but my great great grandfather invented the incandescent electric light bulb.
KS: So we have him to thank for the light that we are now receiving.
KS: He invented it three months before Thomas Edison. He was a British man, a scientist, and by default he got into a laboratory experiment with some chemists that killed themselves in an explosion and he then inherited it and he invested.
TN: This is a true story?
KS: Oh yes, you can Google it. Sir Joseph Swan is his name.
Through that laboratory he invented bromide paper, which of course was photographic paper, but the bromide element is what he was able to put in a light bulb, create a vacuum which allowed the light bulb to shine for many hours.
Three months after he patented it in England, he discovered a gentleman called Thomas Edison had copied the same idea and patented it in America.
TN: I do not believe you
KS: It is true. He sued him, you know it goes in the family suing in courts and so on.
So he sued Thomas Edison and he won the case and the judge gave him 50% of the American patent.
So, the two of them started the first light bulb company called Eddie-Swan, Edison and Swan.
His (Joseph Swan’s) son Kenneth Raydon, who I am named after, was knighted, they were both knighted by the Queen, and he became the Queen Mother’s legal counsel in England.
So, because of that, his sister left to be married to my great great grandfather, a captain in the British Navy.
Hilda Swan was her name, and his name was Robert Sharpe.
They were adventurous, well should I rather say Robert was adventurous.
She was a quieter lady and he decided to take her to KwaZulu-Natal at the turn of the century and that's where my grandfather was born.
Noel Sharpe, who became Dr Noel Sharpe, he was a famous geologist in Africa.
In fact, he got Tiny Rowland into Lonrho, which was one of the biggest mining houses here.
So because of that in honour of my great uncle, I was given the name Kenneth Raydon.
My father is Kenneth Robert. Kenneth is a family name, and Robert of course was my great grandfather.
TN: Wow. What a pedigree Ken? Why have you kept this a secret?
I thought I was your friend and I would know this stuff
KS: I am just a shy Zimbabwean boy from Mazowe!
TN: Hahahaha. Ken let me take you to, if you still remember, you and I some time back in a bus from Kigali to the gorillas.
KS: Oh yes.
TN: A fascinating journey that we had, but I think that is the first time I met you.
KS: That is right.
TN: That is the first time that you struck me as an interesting individual.
You told us about how you came to know God through a skiing accident in Canada in 2007.
As succinctly as possible do you want to walk us through that story?
KS: Sure. I mean it is such a moving story.
It is difficult for me to say it shortly, but I will say this, that up until that point of the accident I truly believed there was a God, but I did not know him personally.
I had no personal experience or testimony to believe He was real, but I thought there was something that existed out there.
When the accident happened, which was the first time I had been skiing at all, and on the fourth day of skiing my private ski instructor said that I was good enough to go off-piste, which is almost unheard of.
Off-piste when you go in the powder the snow is loose, and you need different skis which I did not have, and you need a completely different skill set.
But for whatever reason this adventurous Australian ski instructor said let's go off-piste.
My wife said no thanks I will go in the other group.
So, skiing behind them off-piste I took a turn spun backwards and hit my head into a tree and on impact my brain was severed from my right ear to my lower jaw, 12.8 centimetres in length and six centimetres wide.
The dura membrane that holds the brain to the skull was ripped apart and the blood profusely bled pushing my brain upwards from the base of my skull over five hours my brain was compressed three times, and I was completely in a coma by then.
I had to be rushed into Lionsgate Hospital and be given what is called a craniotomy, which is to cut through the skull and they removed this amount of bone from the skull off the head to take out the blood and then hope for the best.
Due to the fact my brain had been compressed three times, they kept me in a comatose state for five days, while the brain expanded as a sponge.
The brain is a sponge that can expand back into the cavity, but the difficulty they told my wife was that on waking up I would be a vegetable.
They gave her a 2% chance of survival and said if I woke up I would have no memory, no faculties and she would have to take care of a vegetable for the rest of her life.
She was quite willing to do that, and it is interesting that a Waipio actually came to my help, John Jennings, and met my wife in a traumatised state obviously.
His father was a priest and he said to her I have got someone who can help your husband, and she said: who is that? He said God.
She said that guy does not listen to me.
I grew up as an atheist when my mom died a few months ago I asked for His help and He did not save her.
So, he said instead of asking God to save Ken why do you not ask God to give you the strength to accept His will for Ken?
He led her in prayer and every day she would go to the chapel and pray and she tells me she made a deal with God that if He brought me back she would read his book.
Sure enough five days later on waking up from this comma instantly in a flash all my faculties were restored and I could remember everything up until the point where I lost consciousness.
On the accident on the slope I was knocked out cold, completely unconscious for three minutes.
Waking up I realised there was something dramatically wrong, I did not feel right, my skis were in the snow.
I tried to get them and the instructor said no let us get you evacuated.
He called the medic; the medic came and they wanted to take me out on a helicopter and I said no I am sure I can ski down.
So, I started skiing down with the medic I got halfway down and then my world was spinning around me literally.
I could not stand and he took one look at me and said your right pupil is dilated, you have internal bleeding on the brain, we need to get you to the hospital.
By the time I got to the local hospital I was semi-conscious, an hour later they x-rayed me, there were no broken bones not even a scratch on my body, but they knew there was internal bleeding.
They put me in an ambulance and transported me to Vancouver, to Lionsgate Hospital, which is about two hours and in that ambulance, I died.
I remember lying there staring at the ceiling like this and all my faculties had gone so the only thing I had left was sight.
My sense of smell, hearing, taste had all gone.
It was a very terrifying moment because you realise how vulnerable you are, how insignificant you are that you are reduced to almost nothing, and you are no longer in control of your life.
As much as I was an A-type personality who liked to control things, at that moment I had absolutely no control.
I saw people moving around me, almost shadows.
They were getting desperate, obviously trying to resuscitate me and save my life.
At the time I passed out they were about to put me on a ventilator.
I remember the lights dimming and going into a small little dot of light and in those last moments I said if there is a God, please let me just see.
That is the last thing I remember saying.
Then when I woke up instantly restored I could not understand what happened to me.
Literally, I felt a little bit differently, more emotional.
I hope that I am a tough guy, but you know I was weeping a lot, and people would write to me and say we love you, we have been praying about you.
I would cry and I could not understand this. I thought maybe it is post-traumatic stress symptoms.
Two days later I checked myself out of hospital, discharged against doctors’ orders.
I was in the Western Vancouver Hotel on the Bayshore of Vancouver recuperating. I walked out of the hotel...
TN: How long were you in hospital?
KS: So it was five days in a coma and two days.
When I woke up I actually said I need to leave and they said no, it is impossible.
So after a few hours of persuasion they said if you pass the tests we will let you leave.
Then they gave me a physical.
TN: After such a big surgery?
KS: Yeah. They were saying I need to be there for six months rehabilitation.
I mean they really expected epileptic fits, you know, absolutely no control over your mental faculties, and your memory should be completely gone, but everything was intact.
So I proved it to them. I did the physical exercises, and some mental tests, maths, English and so on.
Eventually they discharged me against the doctor's recommendation, and I went to the hotel and walking in the Bayshore Square I was contemplating; why am I alive?
What have I done to deserve this?
I really felt like I had a second chance and in that moment I just felt God speak to me in my spirit, almost like there was a second being inside me that was not myself and it said to me you're my son, I love you and I've given you back your life for a purpose.
Nothing will happen to you until you have done what you are supposed to do.
I just fell on my knees, I wept and wept and I gave my life to God not knowing if he was a Christian God, a Muslim god, a Hindu god, a Jewish god, but knowing that I had a father who loved me enough to give me back my life.
And at that moment I just dedicated myself to Him. Anything he wanted me to do would be...
TN: So prior to that you had not given your life to God?
KS: Not really. I mean my aunt who is now 86 years old, I saw her in Cape Town yesterday, she is a great woman. This is my father's sister.
She is a devout Franciscan from the Catholic Church, she baptised me when I was a baby, christened me, but other than that I guess I could be called a Christian, but I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or with God.
I did not really know who they were.
TN: So as far as you are concerned what has been the biggest impact of this?
KS: The journey for me has been that it does not really change who you are, because we are born who we are.
We have inherent characteristics and talents and abilities.
I think what it does is bring into focus what is the most important thing in your life.
In those dying moments, I must say that the only thing that I thought of was the people that had been in my life that I was leaving behind and the experiences that I had had.
In hindsight if you look back through your life, the only two things you really take with you after this life is the relationships you build and the experiences you had.
TN: What was Ken like before that accident?
KS: I was less trusting. I was more of a control freak.
I accepted there was a higher power, but I did not necessarily accept that everything is preordained, that you know I thought it is more up to me to make it happen.
After that I have become very peaceful within myself to know that God is the one in control at the end of the day; of everything.
TN: Talk to me about you are an entrepreneur, you have built a big business?
How do you deal with being a Christian in business?
What are your do's and don’ts as a result of being a Christian?
God has sent me on a mission, He has given me a second life for a purpose?
KS: That is a very deep and profound question, and I think there are three ways.
The first one is, first and foremost how I align my, let us say pre-Christ principles, rules and value system to be aligned to what God would expect for me to do.
And that is biblical, so it needs you to read the Bible, to study the scriptures and understand really what you can and cannot do with God because I think obedience is one of the greatest things we have with God.
You know He says obedience is greater than sacrifice.
So, if we understand, this is the framework, these are the rules, if I operate within those rules then I'm being Christ-like.
So, I think that is the first thing.
The second thing, which is probably more important than the rules is being led by the Spirit, and Christ Himself said to the Jews, you know they were complaining why are you working on the Sabbath day, and I take the Sabbath very seriously.
We do not buy anything, we do not go out, we really try and stay at home we do not allow anyone to work for us anywhere on the Sabbath.
But at the same time...
TN: Are you a Seventh-Day Adventist?
KS: No I am Latter-Day Saint.
“In Conversation With Trevor” is a weekly show broadcast on YouTube.com//InConversationWithTrevor. The conversations are broadcast to you by Heart and Soul Broadcasting Services