• August 4th, 2020

Gurirab’s overnight fly from New York

Columns, Comment
Columns, Comment

Mvula ya Nangolo It had become traditional for the late Theo-Ben Gurirab to purchase a book at the airport in order to shorten the flight from New York to Lusaka, Zambia. It became more than his custom to read and make me the fortunate recipient of the book purchased in New York. Gurirab had become accustomed to a knock on the hotel room in the morning, at times he had not even heard my voice but would say, ‘Peter wait’. In his bathrobe he would hand over the book he had just finished reading before the flight reached Lusaka. In addition to that, the book was accompanied by US$100. These two items always put a smile on my face knowing that not only would I have a book, before it was donated to the library of the UNIN. However, if it were a specialised copy, so rare or important, I would keep it in my possession to have others read and return it to me for keepsake. The US$100 that I got plus the book never raised the question on how I knew that Gurirab was coming to Africa or he was in a room of a certain international hotel in Lusaka. A couple of days ago we were at a restaurant in the suburbs, where I related this unique connection Gurirab and I have had over the years. I told his wife, Joan, whom I started long ago calling my aunt, as I called Gurirab my uncle, because of the age difference between us. I happily recalled the US$100 that accompanied the books, and opened my bag to pull out a book written by Hans Namuhuya about the list of Aandonga kings. Having underlined some close relatives, I indicated King Nangolo was a direct descendant of my elders. After receiving that, he handed over N$100 to me. I held it in my hand, and showed it to his wife and Nangula Geingos and said: ‘You see, this is what used to happen.’ I thought about Nangula, Kerry Tjitendero and my own son Puleni, it took me back to Lusaka. These three children were born in Lusaka, within the same year. And we used to joke about how it could have happened that they were born in the same year. One day on his usual trip to Lusaka, Gurirab handed over a complete collection of Agostinho Neto’s poetry to me. That particular book put a smile on my face, the book and its poetry collection sent me back to a particular night of the occasion of Meriam Makeba performing at the same Lusaka hotel, attended by Neto with a colleague from MPL, Andreas Shipanga his wife Emse, Meekulu Putuse Apollus whom I accompanied to the show – she didn’t want to drive at night. I am made to think of Namibia’s diplomatic trio in New York – Gurirab, Hidipo Hamutenya and the third President of Namibia Hage Geingob. Thinking of them caused my memories to stretch far in the past when we were students at Augustineum. It is the diplomatic trio in New York of Hamutenya, Gurirab and Geingob who were my constant source of information on press conferences, special talks between various delegations, who updated me on what was happening in New York for me to convey on the Voice of Namibia, Namibia Today, feature articles and a specialised column that I wrote for a Tanzanian English daily newspaper. This habit continued when I was transferred to Lusaka where I continued to write feature articles for African and overseas-based journals. Gone is a smile, a way of a man, the books that I used to receive – the US dollars are actually nothing compared to the warmth, the smile and the man I have come to praise as an uncle.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-20 10:05:35 | 2 years ago

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