Thousands bid Muchemwa farewell
By Daniel Nemukuyu and Fungai Lupande
Thousands of people thronged the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare yesterday to pay their last respects to late nationalist Retired Brigadier-General Felix Muchemwa.
Muchemwa, who was a medical doctor, died on Monday in Egypt where he was receiving treatment for cancer and peripheral neuropath, a disease that affects the nerves.
He is survived by his wife Tapiwa Lynette Muchemwa, three children and one grandchild. The event started at early in the morning Stodart Hall in Mbare where scores of people braved the chilly weather and converged to bid farewell to the gallant national hero.
The youths could be seen toyi-toying and singing Chimurenga songs ahead of President Mugabe’s arrival. President Mugabe led mourners into body viewing before leaving for the national shrine for the burial.
On his arrival at the Heroes’ Acre, the crowd broke into song and dance while others shouted “Gushungo! Gushungo!”. Some mourners had portraits of Muchemwa. Mbare Chimurenga Choir and various church musical groups performed at the send-off ceremony.
Roman Catholic Church’s Father Francis Ribeiro presided over the burial. Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa described Dr Muchemwa as a trusted war doctor who dedicated his career to the liberation struggle.
He joined the Zanla forces in Mozambique 1977. He joined the late Dr Herbert Ushewokunze who was the head of the medical team and also worked with Dr Sydney Sekeremayi, who was deputy to Dr Ushewokunze.
“He was an active, very reliable young cadre and we never had any complaints about him throughout the war. “He was one of the young doctors who moved from camp to camp wherever there were health concerns in the camps.
“He travelled all over to areas like Tete, Manica and Gaza doing his job. “After independence, he was one of the officers who co-ordinated our comrades at the assembly points. He was a young man I trusted a lot,” said VP Mnangagwa.
Speaking at the same occasion, the late nationalist’s eldest son, Mr Fungai Muchemwa, described him as a loving and caring father who was loyal to his leaders.
Mr Muchemwa said his family learnt a lot from the late hero adding that his legacy will live on. “My father was a selfless man who did not ask for too much. He could only give everything he had. He taught us to love one another. He taught us loyalty. His legacy will live on,” he said.
Various banners and placards were being raised at the national shrine, honouring the late fighter for his good works. Some were inscribed:
“Brigadier-General Muchemwa; Dr of the Revolution”, “Champion of rights of differently-abled persons”, “Selfless, principled and dedicated cadre” and several others.
Children from Jairos Jiri Home also attended Dr Muchemwa’s burial. Dr Muchemwa was born in Mhondoro on April 22, 1945. He attended Nehanda and St Michael primary schools between 1953 and 1960 before proceeding to Kutama Mission and Fletcher High for his high school.
He got a scholarship to study medicine at the now University of Zimbabwe (then University of Rhodesia). He was expelled from the university for his involvement in politics and declared a prohibited person and barred from visiting Harare (then Salisbury).
In 1970, he got another scholarship to study at the University of Birmingham. He qualified with Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) in 1973, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow Part1 in 1975 and a Master of Anatomy in 1976.
He was elected secretary of the ZANU Birmingham branch in 1973. In 1977, Dr Muchemwa left the United Kingdom and joined the liberation struggle in Mozambique.
Several dignitaries including VP Mnangagwa, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Harare Provincial Affairs Minister Miriam Chikukwa, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, service chiefs and senior Government officials attended the burial. The Herald