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Douglas Nyikayaramba burial in PICTURES

By Harmony Agere

The burial of national hero Ambassador Douglas Nyikayaramba yesterday at the National Heroes Acre was a spectacle like few others ever witnessed before at the hallowed shrine.

Pallbearers carry the casket bearing the national hero Lt Gen Douglas Nyikayaramba (Rtd) before burial, at the National Heroes Acre. — Pictures: Tawanda Mudimu
Pallbearers carry the casket bearing the national hero Lt Gen Douglas Nyikayaramba (Rtd) before burial, at the National Heroes Acre. — Pictures: Tawanda Mudimu

The absence of scores of mourners, who usually gather at the national shrine to pay their last respects to national heroes in the mould of late army general, as a result of the enforcement of strict Covid-19 preventative protocols, made for a funeral with a difference.

There was no grand procession of the funeral entourage from the historic Stodart Hall in Mbare.

The streets were not lined by onlookers as the cavalcade slowly made its way to the hilltop shrine around midmorning.

At the shrine, only invited Government officials, family members and selected service providers were allowed in to ensure that social distancing was enforceable. Strict health checkpoints were set up at the main entrance, with those in the VIP section required to go through Covid-19 screening.

Even President Emmerson Mnangagwa could not lay the wreath on the grave, as per tradition. The sight of pallbearers dressed in full hazmat gear was striking.

The late national hero and Zimbabwe Ambassador to Mozambique, Lieutenant- General (Retired) Douglas Nyikayaramba who succumbed to Covid-19 related complications last Tuesday was laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
The late national hero and Zimbabwe Ambassador to Mozambique, Lieutenant- General (Retired) Douglas Nyikayaramba who succumbed to Covid-19 related complications last Tuesday was laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

In his graveside eulogy, the President was candid in his assessment of the pandemic.

“Covid-19 is a public health challenge nationally, regionally, continentally and globally,” he said.

“The pandemic knows no boundaries.

“The only lasting solution is a vaccination programme.

“Pursuant to that, Government has decided that vaccines shall be accessed by all free of charge and will bear the costs of the vaccination programme.”

He thanked the Chinese government for its “unqualified” support, which include a substantial donation of vaccines to Zimbabwe.

“In the same spirit, let me thank the governments of Russia, India and the United Kingdom for extending similar support and access to vaccines at a time when some nations and corporate entities have decided to put impediments to vaccine access, or seek to profiteer from the pandemic,” he said.

Mnangagwa said only safe and effective vaccines will be made available.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa hands over the national flag to the national hero Lieutenant General Douglas Nyikayaramba's (Rtd) widow Elina at the burial while Vice President Kembo Mohadi looks on, at the National Heroes Acre.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa hands over the national flag to the national hero Lieutenant General Douglas Nyikayaramba’s (Rtd) widow Elina at the burial while Vice President Kembo Mohadi looks on, at the National Heroes Acre.

Amai Elina Nyikayaramba, widow to the late national hero, wailed uncontrollably as the casket was slowly lowered into the grave.

“Oh my God . . . my dear Douglas is gone,” she wailed, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“I prayed to you Lord, I prayed for the recovery of Dougie, I thought he was going to recover . . . Oh God.”

Following the funeral rites, the few people who attended the burial slowly trooped back to their seats.

“This is not because we don’t care about Douglas but we have to follow the rules to defeat this pandemic,” a senior uniformed forces officer could be heard whispering.

Some uninvited youths even attempted to sneak in through the bushes just to catch a glimpse.

The Nyikayaramba family spokesperson, Frazer Zvina Nyikayaramba, described the late national hero as a unique character.

“He uplifted many people academically and career-wise in the family and outside, and I say go well Ngara Maphosa,” he said.

“You fought a good fight and the void you left shall never be filled as you were unique and special in your own way.

“God gives, God takes and all we can say is we are forever grateful for the honour bestowed upon our family by the President and the Government of Zimbabwe. Tatenda, mazvita, siyabonga, thank you!” The Sunday Mail

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