By Sibanengi Dube
I have been receiving sweet messages from well-wishers since the dawning of my birthday on 11 October. My inboxes and timelines were inundated with choruses of happy birthday messages from thousands of friends, family members, former and current colleagues, readers, followers and admirers and recluses. Thanks so much. Satan must be wailing with envy upon witnessing such tonnes of genuine love. I wish you all knew how much this means to me. I felt very important as I read every word that was posted on my timeline, wall, inbox and space. I am humbled by the efforts you made to send such spirits lifting messages and I shall forever remain indebted to all of you for such kind messages. I can’t think of any reason why you took off time from your tight schedules to drop me a few lines except for your unadulterated love for this lowly newsman. I responded to every message that graced my inbox and timelines. Dai zvaikwanisika hazvo Tenzi vakuvhurirai makomborero.
My Mzukuru Panashe, made sure that all the valuable messages were acknowledged. Some people called to verbally express their happy birthday wishes. That was so cute and kind of you guys to invest your time in making me feel good on my born day. My sisters-in-law, daughters of my wife’s brother, ambushed me with happy birthday hymn from Zimbabwe over the line, as I was still sleeping 6 000 kms away from them. Thanks, varamu vangu, Prim, Esther and Gigi. You kick started my birthday on a higher note. Dai mwedzi, zuva, nenyeredzi zviri zvangu ndaizvitora ndozviti tswe, mumaoko menyu.
My appreciation also goes to my youngest daughter, 10-year-old Naledi Dube, who composed a song and sent me a video as she sang and danced for dad. Makapenga, Wamanava, Dube, chishongo, gandaravasikana rinotedza, mutenda tayambuka, gwizi gwavambe, Manjenjenje, Mhizha. Thanks Nana. Not to be outdone was my son, Sibanengi Junior, who mobilised his friends from a street football pitch, to sing a happy birthday song and forwarded me an audio. Thanks, Mhizha and your friends. Munogona Mpedzegwa ku organise vanhu. Saka zviri muropa izvi. Thanks to my loving sisters Tamburayi and Cllr. Tungamirai who religiously wait for every midnight of my birthday to flood my inbox with happy centennial messages.
Zvinoda kutendwa nemhando yapamusorosoro vana Chishongo. The same goes to my other sister Jesca Ngwenya. Ndinotenda mzukuru wavaMusatanina. Yes! We had this loving gogo who was generous with musatanina insults whenever she gets excited after a few sips of goga (umqombothi). To my muzukurus Panashe Chinouya and Tatenda Haran, you are gems. Mafadza sekuru. Sekuru Timson Dziva, veduwe! Rudo rwenyu nemzukuru wenyu gunokunda ngoma kurira.
Thanks for all the 50 birthday messages you have been annually sending me for almost half of a century.
And then there are four former classmates I met 35 years ago at Chegato High School, a rural based boarding school in Mberengwa who never omitted even a single year since 1987 to send me a birthday message. Thanks to Edson Maidza, Claiton Manikai, Hillary Phiri and Sheunesu Madziva.
The same goes to Owen Shumba who was way ahead of our stream who always create time to drop me a few lines on all the birthdays I had on mother earth. Mukoma ndinotenda. I extend similar gratitude to Lenard Zhou, my High School buddy, who is now my father-in-law after my young brother married his daughter. Tinotenda tezvara. Totoombera maoko. Thanks, Vimbiso Deredza. Tinopa kutenda Pamela Rutumhu. Thanks Rodgers Mudarikwa nemashoko enyu evakiridzo. I feel nostalgically rich each time you remind me of the special place I have in your aging hearts. Let those well-placed hearts continue to pump blood to different part parts of your body. Please avoid over-loading your hearts with love because those life propelling organs have no biological capacity for passion but can only siphon blood. Thanks, Shydrek Chimbaira for your kind words. Chimbaira is a smart and witty businessman, I met 16 years ago in Joburg, but I wonder if I know him for certain, because he calls himself Myles or Mugove when he is in a good mood but prefers to be addressed as Mukanya when he is down. Whoever you are Myles, Mugove, Shydreck or Chimbambaira, thanks very much.
Then there is this cheerful and respected journalism trainer Dr. Reward Mushayabasa, who had the misfortune of having me as one of his 1994 students, but this bloke always showers me with kind words despite being the ‘Sibanengi’ that I am. I thought I was on top of the list of students he would wish to forget as quickly as possible, in a typical good riddance to bad rubbish kind of a set up. But the good doctor, thinks I deserve his attention. Thanks Dr. Mushayabasa.
I have colleagues and bosses who I worked with and for, many years ago, and I guessed by now I should have waned from their recollections, but they always mail me such candy messages notwithstanding all the ‘shit’ I visited upon them during the time I worked with them. Thanks, Elize Viljoen, the best boss I have ever worked for after she entrusted me with my second editing job for 1KZNTV, one of Africa’s biggest community Television Stations. Thanks, Elize! Next time I come to Africa be prepared to be my guest at my home for a weekend of sipping wine and braaiing fish by the side of Vaal River as we used to do during our funny Olympic marathons in St. Lucia and Showe in KZN. Apart from introducing me to online journalism, thanks, Megan for your kind message. Some of us thought we were so insignificant to be remembered by the mighty ‘Megs’, eight years after leaving Caxton. Thanks, Aphiwe Lusiba Boyce for checking on me right round the clock, but I didn’t notice your brotherly love when we were slaving together at the Caxton Newsroom in Hyde Park. Thanks, Simon Nare, who I worked with at Daily Sun, for your humorous birthday message. In my entire life, I have never met someone like Nare who drips with hilarity each time he opens his mouth. I think you must consider putting your talent to good use by trying your hand in stand-up comedian upon hanging the pen. Thanks, Jacqeline Shivambu, for your birthday message and I shall forever cherish the moments we chased stories together as junior reporters at Sowetan Newspaper and later at Daily Sun.
It is my attractive prerogative to thank all those dropped their birthday presents for me at my official residences in Johannesburg and Harare, but as from next year only cash gifts are accepted as we have no space to keep those huge boxes. Meanwhile I appreciate those who deposited cash in my bank account, but as from next year, please double check with me the correct account to use, because the majority of you made the mistake of sending money into my ANZ account which I jointly hold with my wife.
There are some people I am yet to meet in real life, but they saw it fit to put a smile on my face as I age gracefully. Thanks Noreen, Musa Shava, Muchineripi, TG Trie, lot, Viola, Ivy, Babington, Brady and many others. I can only count my blessings for enjoying such positive energy from multitudes of people. Thanks to many others I couldn’t mention in this reminiscence. Life starts at 40 which makes me 10 years old, but my wife has already started referring to me as an old man.