The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
MTHANDAZO Moyo shivered when he saw his wife across the room.
It was chilly on the afternoon of 14 May in Bulawayo but that was not the reason why a shiver or two ran down Moyo’s spine as he stood at Stay Afrique in Barham Green. He had known Pretty Ncube, his wife, for more than 24 years, but he had never seen her in that light.
For 24 years, one of his greatest wishes had been to see his wife’s face beam up at him on the marriage altar, as they prepared to exchange vows. Now that dream, that beautiful 24-year-old dream, was only metres away from him.
He could almost grab it, touch it, hold it. Yes, he was a shivering mess and he had tears in his eyes but in his chest his heart was dancing with joy. As his jubilation overflowed, his sister, who stood next to him, as he seemingly buckled under the pressure of his own happiness, thought he would suffer from cardiac arrest. Moyo is after all, no spring chicken. The previous day he had celebrated his 50th birthday.
“When they got to the venue, everyone had made their entrance,” said his son, Lizwi Moyo. “When it was time for the groom to enter, the bride was already at the opposite end. When he entered, he thought he was going into the venue for his birthday celebration. The moment he walked in, he couldn’t see what was happening and then the poet, Thandolwenkosi Ndlovu said ‘khangela ngapha’ he then looked aside and saw Pretty, who is my mother, in her wedding gown, he froze. My aunt, who was close to him, thought he was going to have a cardiac attack. He was shivering. And he cried and cried.”
It all began in December last year when Lizwi, a revenue clerk at the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) was part of the organising committee of a wedding so impressive that he decided to have one for his parents.
After all his own mother had fantasised about her wedding day. She had planned it all in her head, taken sizes for her ideal dress knowing deep down, that she could not possibly have enough in the bank to fund an expensive ceremony.
“My parents, especially my mother, have always wanted to have a white wedding. I remember when I was in Grade 5, I once went with her looking for a wedding dress, she was taking sizes and everything. But we knew that funds did not permit for her to have a white wedding. But it is something she has always wanted.
“Last year in December, I was the best man at a wedding for our pastor at Family Covenant Church (FCC). I loved his wedding because I was directly involved in the planning and I said to myself, since my father is turning 50 years, let me have a surprise wedding for him. I called my close friend, Lieutenant Sidney Murandu, who is now in Harare and he became the chairperson of this wedding committee. I called him and told him this is my plan. At the time, it was only an idea.”
By the beginning of the new year, what was once just a seed in Lizwi’s mind had germinated and was now flowering into shape. Even an organising committee had been formed. Blessmore Ncube and Mzingaye Ngwabi would be the MCs, while Thandolwenkosi Ndlovu would be the designated poet for the occasion. Reverent Paul Bayethe Damasane would officiate.
“We started a group, where we would communicate and lay down ideas. We started to approach different people that are close to them and close to me. On 5 January, we started our own Chief Planners Committee and that’s when the whole planning process started. We decided on the venue and we settled on Stay Afrique which is in BG and we also finalised on the service provider for décor and catering,” he said.
But Lizwi’s grand plan had one major snag. In order to execute the perfect, heart-stopping surprise wedding ceremony, he needed to rope his parents into the idea of having a wedding, without them knowing that he was actually planning one.
“In February we had a challenge. How do we get their consent for them to be married? We didn’t want to be embarrassed after making all these plans. So, I went to them and said that at work their needed their marriage certificate for me to incorporate them into my medical aid.
They bought my story and they went to court where they were given the month of August. Now I was stressed because I didn’t want August, I wanted the 14th of May, because my dad’s birthday is on 13 May which was on a Friday and the only day, we could do the ceremony was Saturday.
“We went to court, pleaded with them and told them that this is what we are planning and asked them to shift to an earlier date. They did that and we were given the 13th of May. When this process was done, my parents also started to have their own ideas. They now wanted to have a small celebration because remember, they always wanted the wedding.
They wanted their own little celebration in August. So, we said that was great, we could now get their ideas about what they wanted including their sizes. So, they started to plan their August wedding, we used their ideas,” he said.
For the plan to work perfectly, Lizwi needed his mother, as the bride, to be the first recipient of his grand surprise. In order to achieve this, she became a part of the 14 May conspiracy, with Lizwi preparing her for her own wedding under the guise that all preparations were instead for his father’s surprise birthday party.
“The interesting part was when I had to go to my mother and tell her that we planned on having a surprise birthday for my dad. She thought she was now part of the plan now. So, it was easier for us to get her to do nails and other things because she thought it was a rehearsal.
On Friday the 13th of May we paid for her hair and nails. The following day, I went to pick her and said let’s go to the venue and wait for Mr Moyo there. She agreed and I picked her up at 11am and we went to North End where my maternal grandparents stay. All the time I was busy communicating with people at the venue of the wedding,” he said.
When finally, the surprise was revealed to Pretty Ncube, her heart fluttered and she could not help but break down in tears.
“Everything was ready, shoes, bridesmaids and everything else. As we were approaching, she saw a lot of cars and a lot of people so she said let’s not get in. I forced her to get in. Young Artistes Development School was already singing these African songs to welcome a bride and then I told her it’s your wedding day. She insisted that her wedding was in August and she was very confused. She was so confused.
“She didn’t believe it. When people were singing around the car and her Matron of Honour, Mrs Nkomo, came to open her door, she cried and it was an emotional moment. All the ladies were crying. It sounded like we were at a funeral,” he said.
With the bride now preparing for the wedding, Lizwi began executing the final act of his well-written script. It was time to get the groom.
“Having dropped the bride, I think I stayed there for 15 minutes, I went to collect the groom, for his 50th birthday he didn’t even know. The story he knew all along was that we were going for awards at work. I told him not to worry about a suit because I had bought one for him. When I got there, I said I forgot the suit in my car and it so happened I was not driving my car that day. I told him we would collect the suit in Matsheumhlope because we were meant to go to Lalani Hotel for the awards.
“We drove slowly because the groomsman was not yet done dressing up. When we got Matsheumhlope there was my aunt. She is not someone who you see regularly because lives deep in rural Gwanda. He also sees his sister, who he had not seen recently because she had not fully recovered from a stroke attack.
He sees his cousins and other close family and he was shocked and they were singing Happy Birthday. Pastor Nkomo, who had helped us with the plan, dressed him up and told him that the birthday was at a different venue,” he said.
It was only after he got to the venue that Moyo realised the extent of what his son had done for him. The son, who had watched two youthful sweethearts’ burning desire to have a white wedding grow fiercer with the years, had finally made it happen. Even he could not contain the emotions.
“Emotionally I couldn’t handle it, because it was their wish, it was what they had always wanted. I said even if I’m a 22-year-old, I will do this one thing for them. This one thing is me saying in this life, nothing is impossible at all as long as you put your mind to things,” he said.