By Victor Mtambanengwe
To be honest I really don’t know where to start. My dear father was one of the most humble, down to earth, principled and dedicated people, I have ever known.
I remember the days when my brothers and I were studying at Unam, when he’d come home, lay down his briefcase, briefly stop and chat with us, asking how our day had been. Not long after that he would leave us and go into the sun lounge and bury his head in his work, until the time to eat supper came, when he would join us at the table to eat one of our bachelor-style cooked meals.
As we ate, we would watch the news and every once in a while, he’d ask a question or two about whatever topic was making the headlines, and woe unto you, if you didn’t know the answers to the questions he asked. Dad liked us to be aware of our surroundings, and to be on point with what was going on in the world. He had no time for ignorance and laziness. I remember him saying something to us one day, when we were just lazing around doing nothing in particular.
He started by asking if anyone wanted a hundred dollars, to which we all enthusiastically jumped and answered “yes”. He then went on to say anyone of us who can show him an ant that is resting, and lying about, like we were, would get a hundred dollars. This struck me as very funny, because to be honest, there is never a time you will ever find an ant not doing anything! Ants are always busy!
Dear mourners, it is small examples like these that make you wonder and think: But hang on a minute, why on earth would he say something like that?
It is statements such as these that would make you get up and do something, even when you felt like there was nothing to do. Dad had a way of making you look in the mirror and ask yourself: What am I doing with myself and is this really what I ought to be doing?
He had a way of making you reflect on things that you may often overlook, and not consider as important. In other words, dad had a way of bringing out the best in you.
With that being said, dad was a loving man, very approachable, very humble and very kind. He never liked to raise his voice, and the only time you could tell he was angry, was when he would frown and the frown lines on his brow would stick out like ridges in a ploughed field. But he was never angry for long and soon after he had reprimanded you on whatever you may have done, he would be talking about something else.
The nice thing about dad was when you talked, he would listen; and trust you me, he had all the answers to most of the difficult questions that we asked. I honestly don’t remember a time when I approached him with a difficult question or situation, and found out that he was unable to help – never. Dad always had time to listen to your problems. I can’t even count the numerous amounts of people who would often come and confide in him, and seek advice.
Dad always loved to have people around, especially his family. He would never pass over the chance of having a family braai, and at these occasions, he would take time out to tell us about his liberation war stories.
He was a caring, loving person, and all his sister’s and brother’s children would often come to him for advice and guidance. He never turned anyone away, and was always there to sort out conflicts and awkward situations.
From a very early age, growing up during the liberation struggle in Zambia, even though he was mostly absent due to his work, he would make sure that when he was back home, he would spend time with his wife and children. There were times when he would be away for long spells, and the thing that I looked forward to the most, when he came back home, was jumping into his open arms and rubbing my cheek on his bristly beard.
He had remarkable patience. Dad taught all of us how to play chess, and this was one of his favourite pastimes. It even went to the extent where we would play chess tournaments for money in the house. He stimulated our minds at every chance he got.
Dear mourners, for those that have worked with or known him from a professional point of view, I am sure you have no argument when I say dad was a principled man.
I remember once, while having Christmas lunch, a friend of mine’s father said to me: Do you know that your father is one of the most principled people I know?
I asked him why and he went on to say that dad was one of the most incorruptible people that he’d ever met. I agreed totally, because in all the years I have known him, I have never heard of him changing a decision, neither a judgement that he had made, to please anyone. He stuck to his guns.
A man of great integrity, he was. I guess it is these qualities and characteristics that made dad the person who he was, and who he will be remembered as. If anyone can say differently, then I am yet to meet that person.
As you may all be aware, dad served in many high positions during his working career, from being chairperson of the Electoral Commission here in Namibia and Zimbabwe, to Acting Ombudsman, Acting Judge President, Acting Chief Justice and Chairperson of the Investigation Committee for the Ministry of Health. I don’t think he would have been trusted to carry out all these tasks, if he had an ounce of dishonesty or untrustworthiness in him.
It is with these few words that we, the Mtambanengwe family, would like to say goodbye to one of the greatest men we have ever known.
Dad, go well! You will surely be missed and you have left an unfillable void in our lives.
From mom, Tendai, Taedza, myself, your remaining siblings, grandchildren, friends and colleagues, we ask the Lord to receive you with open arms. May the abundant joy of heaven be open unto you! Rest in eternal peace, and your fondest memories shall remain with us until we meet again.
I thank you!
*This eulogy was delivered on Tuesday at the Central Methodist Church in Windhoek. Retired Judge Mtambanengwe died last week. He was 87
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015