Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Veteran journalist Gwakuba dies

By Bongani Ndlovu

Veteran journalist, writer and war veteran, Cde Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu who died yesterday has been described as a fountain of knowledge about Zimbabwe’s liberation history.

The late Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu
The late Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu

Cde Ndlovu died at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) early yesterday morning after a heart ailment. He was 87.

His wife, Mrs Caroline Gwakuba Ndlovu said Cde Ndlovu had been unwell for some time.

“He had not been feeling well for a while and unfortunately he died at UBH this morning. Burial arrangements will be announced in due course,” said Mrs Ndlovu.

A sombre mood engulfed Ndlovu’s home, number 16 Jungle Road, Trenance in Bulawayo as family members trickled in to pay their respects.

Veteran historian Pathisa Nyathi who wrote a book with the late journalist entitled Zimbabwe important aspects of its modern history — 1888 to 1979, said death has robbed Zimbabwe of one of the last fountains of knowledge about the early days of the liberation struggle.

“I have been pestering him to write something. When I saw him three days ago, he was regretting that he should have listened to people and I said yes, remember Ndlovu that I am one of them. I have been trying very hard to get him to write something. But at least he managed to write this one,” said Mr Nyathi pointing to the book.

He said he doubted if there is anybody alive now who knows the story of the development of the nationalist movement in this country better than Ndlovu.

“ We fast-tracked the production of this book. When we got to his home he was surprised that the book was already out and I left him a copy to make corrections. The last time I saw him was when he had done the corrections. At least he saw the book, courtesy of the typesetter, graphic and the printer who understood when I said gentlemen work fast on this one because this man is going anytime,” said Mr Nyathi.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, who last saw Cde Ndlovu in Bulawayo last month during an appreciation dinner for veteran journalists at a hotel, said she was saddened by the news.

“I’m terribly devastated about the news of the death of veteran journalist Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu. We are losing people who are trailblazers in the media of Zimbabwe. Journalists like Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu really stood by their country in reporting in a positive manner, bringing people together and bringing hope to our people.

“The last time I was in Bulawayo, I had an opportunity to speak with him and he shared his experiences in the media. He expressed how pleased he was with the way we are running the Ministry and how we are providing a conducive environment for dialogue between journalists from both the private and public media and the Ministry. May his soul rest in peace,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

During the liberation struggle, Cde Gwakuba Ndlovu was the director of publicity and information of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu), between 1964 and 1978.

He was also the founding editor of a magazine that was published by the party.

In 1972, Cde Gwakuba Ndlovu was sent to the Soviet Union by Zapu and among his group were now Brigadier-General (Retired) Abel Mazinyane, Colonel (Retired) Thomas “Menu” Ngwenya, late Cde Jack Amos Ngwenya, Cde Phebione Makonese, Cde Easter Ndiweni and Cde Josiah Ncube.

Cdes Gwakuba Ndlovu, Ngwenya, Ndiweni and Makonese were to do leadership training in the Soviet Union.

Brigadier-General (RTD) Mazinyane said Zimbabwe has lost a well read and researched man who knew Zimbabwe’s struggle.

“We have lost a man who had the history of our struggle in abundance. He was a well-read man; he had a lot of political exposure and he went through the whole process of the struggle for the liberation of the country. This goes back to the 1960s when the UNDP was formed.

We have lost an archive of our history,” said Brigadier-General (RTD) Mazinyane.

After independence Cde Ndlovu joined the Chronicle as a senior editorial staff member. He was later appointed Features and Supplements Editor for both Chronicle and Sunday News.

Veteran Journalist Geoffrey Nyarota who was the Chronicle Editor during the time that Cde Ndlovu worked for the newspaper said: “When I was appointed Editor of the Chronicle in 1983 Mr Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu was one of the most senior journalists I found working for the paper. I was much younger than him but that did not in any way affect our relationship. We had a relationship of mutual respect.

“I found him to be much more knowledgeable about our area of coverage than the rest of the newsroom, including me. He therefore became a fountain of wisdom for me and a committed mentor for most of our journalists who were of a younger generation. I am very sorry to hear of his passing on. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

The late journalist left Chronicle and The Sunday News in 1984 to join the Munn Publishing Company where he was the contributing editor and regional manager responsible for Matabeleland, the Midlands, Masvingo, Botswana and Zambia.

He left Munn Publishing Company in September 1987 after he was offered a post by Lonrho Zimbabwe as a Public Relations Executive with responsibility over the same region as that he covered with Munn Publishing. Lonrho Zimbabwe later sent him to Swaziland in January 1988, where his responsibility as a consultant at that country’s official newspaper, The Swazi Observer was to revive that publication by training the workers.

Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said death had robbed Zimbabwe of one of its illustrious sons, just a few days after national hero Cde Abraham Nkiwane was buried at his homestead in Umguza district, Matabeleland North province.

“This is a difficult and painful time that we are going through. Just this week we were burying the late national hero, Cde Abraham Nkiwane, a liberation stalwart. Death is robbing us of wells of knowledge with regards to our liberation struggle and Ndlovu was one of those. We are with the Ndlovu family, the province of Bulawayo, the region and the nation. We are very sad, this is a great loss to Zimbabwe,” said Minister Ncube.

Cde Ndlovu was born on 23 September 1934 at Dombodema Mission in Bulilima District, Matabeleland South province.

After his secondary education at Kutama Mission in Zvimba, Mashonaland West province he worked as a teacher between 1954 and 1959 while being a correspondent for the African Newspaper. He was also a research worker in Social Anthropology among the Kalanga people in the Mangwe District. He then went into full-time journalism in 1961 in the then Salisbury.

He once served as the diplomatic representative for Zapu based in Algeria responsible for Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger and Mali. He also covered countries such as Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany.

On behalf of Zapu he participated in a number of the then Organisation of African Unit summits, Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organisation meetings, United Nations, anti-colonialism committee conferences, Heads of State and several international journalism conferences at places such as in Prague, Pyongyang, Moscow, Berlin, Cairo, Kinshasa, Rome and New Delhi.

From mid-June to mid-July 1979, Cde Ndlovu and Dr Barnabas Dzingai Mutumbuka undertook a lecture tour in Canada on behalf of the Patriotic Front (PF) to apprise Canadians on the socio-political situation in the then Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and why the PF was strongly opposed to the treacherous Muzorewa-Smith regime.

Cde Ndlovu is survived by wife, Caroline, five children and eight grandchildren. The Chronicle