A melancholic masterpiece, The sorrowful symphony of Zodwa Dabengwa’s life Members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church gather around the coffin of the late Mrs Zodwa Dabengwa during a memorial service at their church yesterday

Bongani Ndlovu, [email protected] 

IN a poignant display of honour, the late Mrs Zodwa Dabengwa nee Khumalo, the widow of National Hero Cde Dumiso Dabengwa, has been granted a State-assisted funeral by the Government.  

Today, she will be laid to rest at Manxeleni in Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North province, drawing the curtain on a life that touched countless hearts. Reverend Paul Bayethe Damasane, the Deputy Chief Secretary for Social Services Sector, shared these details during a memorial service held yesterday at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Bulawayo. 

Mrs Dabengwa passed away in the United Kingdom last month aged 76 after a protracted battle with illness. Reverend Damasane revealed that President Mnangagwa, through the Government, had provided assistance in repatriating her body and organising the funeral rites. It was a testament to the immense respect and gratitude she had garnered throughout her life.

A sea of mourners congregated at the cherished African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Mrs Dabengwa was a devoted member. The air hung heavy with sorrow, as songs and sermons reverberated through the sanctuary, embodying her deep-rooted faith as a Christian. As a cherished member of the church’s revered Voices of Praise choir, Mrs Dabengwa’s fellow choristers stood solemnly beside her pristine white casket, draped in her treasured church uniform. The congregation united in harmonious hymns, their melancholic melodies celebrating her life while concealing the grief that weighed upon their souls.

Mrs Josephine Ginya, a member of the choir, lovingly described Mrs Dabengwa as a beacon of unwavering faith and a motherly figure to all. 

“Mrs Dabengwa’s voice, resonating from the depths of her heart, filled the air with its tenor notes. She would implore us, the youth of the church, to utilise our musical talents to sing for God, who had bestowed upon us the precious gift of song. Many souls were drawn to our church by her angelic voice in the choir. A humble woman, she became a motherly figure to us all, invoking our voices to sing in unison. 

Although sadness engulfs us at her absence, our hearts find solace in the memories she left behind,” Mrs Ginya whispered, her voice laden with sorrow.

Mrs Christinah Phiri, a lifelong member of the church, who had shared a devoted service with Mrs Dabengwa, attested to her unwavering commitment to her faith. 

“She dedicated herself to the church and to God, tirelessly serving until we were granted the esteemed position of life members. But Mrs Dabengwa’s devotion did not cease there; she extended her boundless kindness and support to those in need — the ailing, the marginalised, and those who had strayed from the path of righteousness. She tirelessly cared for the church leadership, leaving no stone unturned,” Mrs Phiri declared. 

With reverence, she continued: “Today, though sadness may overshadow our hearts, we remember that Mrs Dabengwa was a gift bestowed upon us by God, and now, He has reclaimed His precious gift. Let His name be praised in all things.”

Reverend Eustice Bekithemba Ginya of the African Methodist Episcopal Church illuminated Mrs Dabengwa’s selfless nature. 

“Mrs Dabengwa was a woman overflowing with love, dedicating her life to God’s work. She possessed an innate ability to care for others, especially the church leadership. Whenever we encountered difficulties, particularly concerning transportation, Mrs Dabengwa would take the initiative and provide assistance. I recall a time when I oversaw two church branches — one in the city centre and another 40 kilometres away. I would conduct the morning service here, only to rush to the rural branch at noon. Mrs Dabengwa took it upon herself to ensure I had the means to travel, even driving me there. Her loss fills us with sadness, as she was a woman of unwavering devotion,” Reverend Ginya mournfully said.

He also revealed that even during her illness, Mrs Dabengwa’s love for the church remained steadfast. 

“Even while residing in the United Kingdom and enduring her own health struggles, she extended a helping hand to the church as a member of the board of trustees. Let us pray that God will fill the void she left behind and grant her eternal peace,” he fervently entreated the congregation. 

Mr Sijabuliso Dabengwa, the spokesperson for the Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation, recounted the profound impact of Mrs Dabengwa’s loving nature. 

“When Dumiso Dabengwa departed, Mrs Dabengwa stood by our side for nearly half-a-year before seeking solace in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, she was unable to return. Despite her illness, she valiantly underwent significant surgeries in South Africa, ultimately recovering,” he revealed. 

Today, a funeral service will be held at the Amphitheatre in Bulawayo, commencing at 8am, before Mrs Dabengwa’s final resting place at Manxeleni in Ntabazinduna later in the afternoon. 

Born on November 6, 1947, she was the daughter of Loncanda Samson Khumalo and Janet Ndiweni of Plumtree. Left behind are her five children, two of whom reside in the United Kingdom, while the others are dispersed across the United States, South Africa, and Botswana. Her unwavering commitment to her faith was deeply rooted in her identity as a devout Christian and integral member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where her contributions facilitated both the growth of the congregation and the uplifting of the surrounding community.

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