The Sunday News
Between 2005 and 2009 while working in Harare, I became good friends with gentle and warm hearted guys that used to sell their wares at the Show Grounds. One of them, I fondly remember and miss, was Sinyoro.
On the days when the late ubab’uSkhosana was not travelling to Bulawayo, Sinyoro would make sure I travelled comfortably.
Sinyoro was a very humorous guy. Every time I was around him, I would be laughing my lungs out.
Years later, I stopped at the Show Grounds to check if Sinyoro was still there and one old lady politely informed me, “Sinyoro akushanda kuBotswana (Sinyoro now works in Botswana)”. I drove off crest-fallen. Sinyoro’s jokes replicated those of my dearest Grade One teacher, Mrs Hilda Nyathi.
Those familiar with Kwekwe District will remember how mighty Gwenzimkhulu Primary School was in all facets. I know my de Porres friends will start arguing. You could not talk about the beauty, development and success of Gwenzi School without mentioning the household names, Mrs Nyathi, Mrs Mhlolo and Mai Mangoe, among the great.
There was one Miss Maphamula who taught my brothers Fanuel and Mlindeli. We shall tell her story some other day.
For today, I just want us to celebrate the larger than life character, my all-time educationist, Mrs HVPM Nyathi, (That was her long signature). We run today because she taught us to crawl. Her style of introducing concepts was nothing but fun and humour. Those of you who know me well understand that I enjoy the company of humorous people. Now you know where it started.
You will remember how during Physical Education lessons some of our classmates struggled to ‘make an about turn and stamp their feet’. She would then meet them at their point of need, in their language and say kutsho ukuthi tshibiliki, khahla!
That was well before my dear friend, God’swill Dube came to join our class, all the way from Harare. At one time he came so close but that one mark was enough to keep us apart. We remain friends to this day though. Mr P Moyo went on to level the score at Grade Seven. He is one veteran we shall always pay tribute to but for today, we are celebrating Mrs Nyathi.
Before she was transferred from our school, the assurance she gave me was that I was never going to be an academic disaster in life and rightly so, God has always been good.
More than 20 years later, in the company of one of my favourite nephews of the Madlira clan, we travelled the length and breadth of Tshampeni looking for Mrs Nyathi’s homestead, just to pay tribute to her.
We found her busy cleaning her well designed urban structures in a rural setting, painted in her all-time favourite pink colour. What architectural pride her compound is! Typical of Mrs Nyathi, “Angifuni doti phansi kwami”, she always remarked in class.
For a few seconds, she looked puzzled but quickly burst into a scream of recognition.
“Nangu umntanami (here comes my son)” she exclaimed! She embraced me with that tender motherly hug, “Ahhhhhh Ndephu”. I saw a few tears of joy. We sat, ate some delicious traditional dishes and there were lots of stories shared, sweet and sad.
A few years have passed since then and I was now looking forward to a day when I would once again visit her and say, mama, read my thesis topic and browse through my research. “Abamhlophe sebeze bayivuma i-majority”. It’s now a day that never was.
One of my special mothers has rested. While I was doing my routine check of those special to me, I was told, “umasalu uswelekile izolo (Mum passed away yesterday)”.
While I mourn with this unfulfilled dream of seeing Mrs Nyathi one more time, I am at peace knowing that she loved the Lord and that she leaves a legacy of academic excellence. One of her favourite songs was Hymn 118 Christ in Song, ngeSiNdebele.
My heart goes out to her son, Lee, daughters Noe and Bongi, lomdala uNyathi.
I no longer have time to tell you how I coincidentally met Mr Nyathi in Bulawayo, ePumula.
Ngizafika ngekhaya mdala iNkosi isiphilisile. Ayilale ngenxeba Mdluli!