Isaac Waniwa, Managing Editor
HE was versatile and seemed not content with just one profession hence he hopped from one job to the other during his working years. The late Innocent Kurwa who was addressed as Mr ‘‘K’’ by his Mathematics students who ranged from those doing O-level to those studying for
Master’s degrees, started as a bank employee before switching to journalism and his first employer as a journalist was the Chronicle.
He started as a reporter and rose through the ranks under the stewardship of the late David Ncube who was his boss as the Sports Editor.
Ncube had also risen through the ranks as he was among the first black reporters to join the Chronicle before independence and also rose through the ranks to become Sports Editor.
He was later elevated to Assistant Editor leaving the sports desk under the capable hands of Kurwa who used to clash with Highlanders FC bosses who accused him of being biased as he was a staunch supporter of their rival, Zimbabwe Saints FC.
When Kurwa attended a workshop which ran for months in Germany, he was accused of going on this foreign trip without approval and management punished him by moving him to the Sub-Editors’ Desk (Subs desk).
Kurwa quickly acquainted himself with the new desk and again rose to become Deputy Chief-Sub. He was a no-nonsense man and those who worked with him at both the sports and subs desks will attest to this.
I remember having cruised all the way from Zhombe where I had covered the late former President Cde Robert Mugabe when I was then the Midlands Bureau Chief, I phoned Kurwa who was in charge on the Subs Desk on the day to brief him that I was back at my station in Gweru ready to file as is procedure and his reply was brief — “Don’t worry, Waniwa, we have already used a Ziana story,” he said in his Catholic accent.
He was simply telling me that I was late with the story hence he decided to use a story from Ziana.
After many years with the Chronicle, Kurwa left for further studies at the University of Zimbabwe and later worked briefly for the Catholic-run Moto Magazine in Gweru as its Editor and the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) where he was the operations manager.
When he retired from active journalism around 2005 following the closure of the Daily News, Kurwa continued to write sports articles as a freelance journalist. He, however, spent a greater part of his time offering private tutorials to O and A-level Mathematics students during weekends and school holidays.
During my frequent visits to his lecture rooms along George Silundika Street in Bulawayo, I discovered that his students held him in high esteem, a confirmation that he was a good tutor.
They used to refer to him as “Mr K” and many of them used to come back to thank him after passing either O or A-level Mathematics. He was passionate about Mathematics and I used to wonder how he kept abreast with the changing curricula given his age. Kurwa at one time told me that among his Mathematics students was his teacher who taught him English at O-level at Silveira Mission High School in Bikita, Masvingo province who was now studying for a Master’s degree but had no Mathematics at O-level.
The late Kurwa was into almost everything, he was a trade unionist who at one time was the national organising secretary of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (Zuj) and at the time of his death he was a board member of the Zimbabwe Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) where he was the Bulawayo adjudicator.
His mandate as an adjudicator was to mediate between members of the public who felt wronged by the media and the media houses concerned.
Kurwa was that person who would make his presence felt at every meeting he attended as he was not shy to speak his mind. Many journalists used to enjoy the engagement each time Kurwa attended a meeting.
The late Kurwa could also get along easily with both the young and the old and many journalists are poorer following his demise as the jovial and ever- smiling Kurwa would crack jokes while giving professional advice each time we met to socialise as journalists.
Those who worked with Kurwa know that he loved his roasted mealies and would go out of his way to ensure he ate two or more cobs a day.
When he was at the sports or subs desk, Chronicle messengers or drivers knew that they had to go to MaKhumalo Bar in Makokoba suburb every night to buy the roasted mealies.
When Kurwa returned to Bulawayo to concentrate on his private tutorials, he used to send me on errands to look for green mealies and groundnuts each time I visited my family in Gweru.
A philanthropist, Kurwa used to assist the needy and a few months before his death, he was touched when he read the story on the plight of three Nkulumane siblings whose mother went to South Africa and never returned. The children who reside at their mother’s house in
Nkulumane 5 suburb, were being looked after by a tenant at the house.
The foster mother was struggling to fend for the kids hence their plight caught the attention of the media.
Water and electricity at the house had been disconnected for non-payment. The children had no blankets, shoes and other basics and Kurwa approached Archbishop Alex Thomas of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo seeking assistance for the children.
He also approached a fellow student who was together with him at UZ and was based outside the country, Mrs Memory Mwale and she directed him to her husband Dr Garikayi Mwale who gave him ZWL5 000. Archbishop Thomas bought groceries and shoes for the children and also asked the local Catholic pastor to continue assisting the children.
Kurwa donated six new blankets to the children and used the money from the Mwales to clear the water and electricity arrears.
The late Kurwa was a family man who was very concerned about the future of his children. The situation got even worse when he lost his wife in a car accident four years ago. He always said he wanted the best for his children and tried his best not to bother them although the three of them were all gainfully employed.
I remember having a serious argument with him when his last-born son Tapiwa told him he wanted to move out to stay alone as Kurwa was opposed to the move. His argument was that it did not make sense for Tapiwa to pay rent when the two of them had the whole house to themselves in Sunninghill suburb.
I told him Tapiwa wanted to grow and he should let him move out and after consulting his other two children they agreed with me and he finally gave in. It seems Kurwa did not move on following the death of his wife hence he became emotional each time he spoke about her death.
After the burial of his wife, Kurwa planted some flowers on the grave and used to water them every week. He vowed never to re-marry saying he did not want to leave “trouble” for his children. This is just a brief about Kurwa the veteran journalist who died on April 25, 2021 following a road traffic accident in Bulawayo the previous night.
The journalism fraternity and others who were also close to the late Kurwa will forever treasure his humanity and professionalism.
Fare-thee-well Madyira Vegona, Chitova. May his soul rest in eternal peace.