By Mtandazo Dube
On Tuesday last week, just after lunch, 2.21pm to be precise, the casket bearing the remains of Chakanetsa Godwin Muzari (pictured) was placed on the lowering device for a short ride just below the earth’s surface.
Like many mourners at Glen Forest who were not just sad but engulfed by grief on that scorching afternoon, I momentarily got lost in thought.
It was a tear-jerking moment of brief reflection and even clarity.
This is it, I mused.
The dirges, last prayers and the final glimpse of the box housing the body of this giant of a man I had known for over a decade became peripheral at that moment.
I was thrown back to January 2008 when I met Muzari in The Sunday Mail newsroom, days after I had joined a star-studded team on the publication’s arts desk.
Of course, I knew his name and was very familiar with his works.
How could I not?
This was the man — writer, rather — that had given us some of the finest arts and entertainment stories of our time.
Long before social media had become an in-thing, it was Muzari who gave us a peek into a raging feud between music superstars Alick Macheso and the late Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo.
It was Muzari who told us that the quarrel was more than just musical, but that Dhewa and Macheso shared a girlfriend, and that this naughty beauty was in the habit of buying her boyfriends identical clothing.
Muzari revealed to the world the comic but startling revelation that it was a pair of socks that made Dhewa and Macheso realise they were being two-timed, triggering animosity.
It was Muzari — at the National Arts Merit Awards cocktail party at Cresta Lodge — that sat Macheso and Dhewa down for a joint interview back in 2008.
Entertainment was his forte.
The world, through his pen, learnt about those that needed help or were talented but unheralded.
We knew about the lives of superstars through him.
In fact, a number of artists, particularly musicians, did not like him, they feared his pen, which he used to build, praise and rebuke.
In a fit of fury, one musician once drove to Muzari’s home in Glen Norah with the intention of pummelling him to a pulp after he had written an unflattering article.
Luckily, a mutual friend intervened and calmed things down.
He was a mentor, many can attest.
Through Muzari’s help, I gained confidence and sharpened my journalistic and writing skills, building a small brand in the process — first in arts circles and eventually the media industry as a whole.
Besides helping me craft better intros, better stories, ensure my articles were well-sourced and balanced, Muzari protected me.
I was 22-years-old and fairly new to the bottle when I came under his wings.
The world of journalism is sometimes oiled by food and drink.
I was introduced to lagers, beers, spirits, brandy and whiskey. Taizoshuta mafirimu.
The Arts Editor at the time, Garikai Mazara, could have fired me in the first three months of joining his team had it not been for Muzari, who ensured that he saw as little as possible of my shenanigans.
He was a protector, a big brother and a mentor who saw my potential and sought to nurture it.
That is why we called him Godfather.
He “promised to take responsibility for our journalism education” with all the ills and benefits.
Sometimes we disappointed him.
But when we did well, he praised us.
He was short-tempered and could even be violent.
We always tiptoed around him when we knew we were not clean in our dealings with him or those he cared about.
Muzari did not like sharing intimate details about his life and so we stayed clear.
He kept to himself and a few circles of trusted friends.
Recently, as he began to slow down on attending music shows and other places where entertainment and arts stories are awash, he began to go down memory lane, digging up archives and doing interviews that left many in awe.
His writings had that effect on people.
A few weeks ago, I told him how he had “returned with a bang” after a string of well-written articles.
He responded by saying “ndanga ndagarisa wena, vapfanha vanozotijairira”.
He knew when he was letting the industry down, but he also knew what to do.
A local company, Tile Essentials, whose major shareholder has interests in entertainment, including music promotion, has pledged to establish and fund the Godwin Muzari Journalism Scholarship Trust.
This is set to ensure that Muzari’s name, his works and passion for the arts live long after him.
“I had a drink with Muzari at Arcadia shops just days before his demise. We did things for each other, but what he was most passionate about was journalism — quality arts reporting.
“I will do everything in my power to ensure that arts and entertainment reporting lives up to Godwin’s lofty standards and that his name is never forgotten. That is why we are setting up this scholarship,” said Spencer Madziya, the managing director of Tile Essentials.
“The students that will be selected will have to study his works and understand them. They will have to convince those charged with overseeing the process that they understand Muzari’s works enough to be worthy of this soon-to-be prestigious scholarship.”
I know that he would have been happy to have his name attached to the development of journalism, however, I am sad that he is not around to add or subtract to this great concept.
Muzari loved the arts.
On many occasions, the different editors he worked with tried to make him change beats, but he always came back to his first love — music, entertainment and the arts.
Said Madziya: “We have already put together the concept. Now we need to consult his family and see how they can be involved because at the end of the day it is meaningless without the input from the Muzari family.
“A trust will be set up, with trustees to oversee the fund and the process. We will work with media houses and experienced journalists in the field to form a panel that will ensure that the process is authentic and represents Godwin’s values.”
Three journalism students with a passion for arts reporting will be selected every year.
All their academic needs will be taken care of until they enter the industry and continue with the legacy of arts, culture and entertainment reporting synonymous with Muzari.
While I am sad that Muzari is gone, that he has left behind a young family, that he left no clues or answers for his friends and family on why he ended his time here on earth the way he did, I am comforted that my children and those that will come long after him will know about him and remember him through his works through this scholarship.
A special shout out to versatile journalist Rest Mutore together with Nyore Madziyanike and Tawanda Marwizi for co-ordinating Muzari’s funeral.
As the journalism fraternity, we are indebted to you.
You made us look organised.
To Impala Car Rental, the company that provided refreshments and groceries for four straight days, and secured Muzari’s final resting place at Glen Forest, we are short of words.
You are a friend of the industry and we appreciate it. We have seen your benevolence, often from afar, but this time it was in our own home. Thank you!
We managed to bid farewell to our colleague, friend and brother with dignity.
Go well Sorojena, go well Godfather, we will miss you dearly.
Till we meet again. The Sunday Mail