Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
AN emotional and heart-breaking scene played out at the Midlands State University graduation ceremony yesterday when a 23-year-old man walked onto the stage, bowed before President Mnangagwa and got capped on behalf of his mother who died in September this year.
It was a bitter-sweet day for Brian Banda who had to sit dejected among jubilant graduands. He endured among the Bachelor of Commerce Information System graduands and cast a lone figure while nonchalantly following proceedings.
As the day progressed with the arrival of President Mnangagwa, everyone took their seats and the Army Band led the guests and graduands in singing the national anthem to mark the start of the graduation ceremony.
It was soon after the national anthem that the university’s Chaplain Reverend Menson Mpofu took to the podium and requested for a moment of silence to remember one of the graduands, Mrs Patricia Banda whom he said was graduating posthumously with a first-class degree in Bachelor of Commerce Information Systems Management.
“Let us take a minute of silence as we observe one of our own, Mrs Patricia Banda, who died on September 2. She was supposed to graduate with others today. May her soul rest in peace,” he said as the hall including the Chancellor, President Mnangagwa observed a minute of silence in her honour.
When his mother’s name was called for capping by President Mnangagwa, Brian walked to the podium with his mother’s gown and cap of knowledge in hand.
The mood in the hall suddenly shifted from celebratory to sombre – there was dead silence.
Brian knelt before President Mnangagwa in a subdued gait as the Chancellor extended his hand to confer the degree to the late Mrs Banda posthumously.
As Brian picked himself up to get back to the stands, the President gave him a warm consoling tap on the shoulder.
The walk from the podium back to the seat seemed a struggle for Brian who was finding it difficult to pick steps while battling to hold back tears as he looked at the distraught crowd.
In an interview later, Brian said: “I am still in pain. It could have been my mum’s big day today, celebrating with others the fruits of her hard work but God had other plans, she is no more and I am here standing in for her.”
He said the day was an emotional one for the whole family.
“It’s an emotional day for me and the whole family,” said Brian as he wiped off tears.
He said his father, Mr Simbarashe Banda and other family members declined to come to receive his late mother’s degree.
“I left my father and the other family members home. Dad actually said he can’t be here because of emotions but I decided to come and stand in for my mother,” said Brian.
Brian, a university student who is pursuing an Accounting degree with Great Zimbabwe University, said he will continue with his studies until he attains a professorship as a tribute to his mother.
“Right now I am on attachment. I am enrolled with Great Zimbabwe University studying accounting. My mother liked her studies very much and she actually wanted to enrol for a Master’s degree soon after completing her first degree. God, however, had other plans for her and I will celebrate her achievements,” he said.
Brian said his mother died following a short illness at the age of 38.
“Mum passed on following a short illness and it was really a shock to everyone. I feel highly honoured that we have been respected by the university and the President,” he said.
Brian said his mother is survived by her husband and three children.