The two nations were called Bechuanaland and Rhodesia when Francis Nyamhuka was born 67 years ago to a Motswana mother and a Shona father.
Last Saturday I joined a few hundred mourners to celebrate Francis Nyamhuka’s life and entomb his body at Zororo Cemeteries in the Zengeza area of Harare, Zimbabwe.
A teacher by profession, Francis rose through the ranks and was head teacher at St. Mary’s High School in Zengeza when he retired two years ago. Speaking at Francis’ funeral, his sister, Elizabeth Flexibility Nyamhuka, attested to Francis’ sterling teaching career as a feat accomplished through hard work.
His love for reading earned him the teenage-days nickname of ‘bookworm’, a habit that he took to his last days.
The late Francis Nyamhuka was a consistent backstage supporter, first of his father and later of his younger brother, Joshua. The latter was the Field Secretary of the Church of God of Prophecy in Zimbabwe until December 2018.
Francis’ demise naturally evokes memories of his parents, the late Bishop Kenneth and Mrs. Gladys Dikeledi Nyamhuka. His father was the legendary missionary of the Church of God of Prophecy in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi and one time overseer to Zambia.
Others will remember that Francis Nyamhuka had a limp in his walk and needed crutches for a good part of his life, a result of a polio attack he got as a toddler.
Incidentally, it is his father’s search for healing against the polio infliction that led Kenneth Nyamhuka to join the gospel preaching churches through the Apostolic Faith Mission in 1955. It is then that Kenneth answered the Macedonian call and started his own church in Harare called the ‘Church in the Home’.
Later, in 1977, a littered gospel tract of the Church of God of Prophecy was to connect Kenneth Nyamhuka with this church headquartered in Cleveland Tennessee, US.
Francis’ death unites us with the history of Zimbabwe and the reminder that two of his siblings went to war to liberate the country from Rhodesian white minority rule.
One, a sister, survived and came back while the other, Kingston, to this day, never returned and neither, if he passed on, is his tomb known.
We leave that to God through professionals like Kundishora Tungamirai Chipunza, at the National Museum of Zimbabwe, whose calling is to follow on the painful memories of research, identification, exhumations, reburials and memorials of the veterans in the category of the soldiers who never returned.
The nation celebrates the ‘unknown soldier’ at the Heroes Acre monumentalised on the south-western fringes of Harare. However, to attempt a personal closure and to honour his own brother Francis named one of his sons ‘Kingston’.
What shall be the inspirational legacy of Francis? As a teacher, a school administrator, a church elder and a consensus man he possessed the dexterity similar to the skills in the fingers that authored the ancient rock paintings of Domboshava and the Matopo Hills.
If he were contentious and self-seeking, Francis would have staked a succession claim to church leadership as he was the eldest surviving son of a charismatic leader with over 20,000 followers in three countries.
Francis Nyamhuka was as consistent as the thumping waters of the Victoria Falls. Our Tswana and Lozi ancestors observed these pounding falls long before Livingstone, calling it mosi oa thunya, The Smoke That Thunders.
On the outside Francis was a quiet, soft-spoken man with a reassuring smile, yet his life of integrity and dependability attests to a thundering soul with a pounding commitment to the Rabbi, who said, “take up your cross and follow me”.
The words of Psalms 116 preached by Reverend Pondiwa at the burial service spoke of human destiny and God’s perspective - ‘Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints’.
Francis Nyamhuka leaves behind his wife Angela, and four boys - Kenneth Jr, Kingston, Kelvin and Kudakwashe. Siblings Elizabeth, Esther, Joshua, Prisca Nyamhuka-Mwandiambira, Priscilla and Abigail survive him.
Francis’ death allowed us to come together to share some love and memories of a friend and a brother. Robala ka kagiso motlogolo.
*Phillip Segadika is former Overseer of the COGOP in Botswana. The opinions and interpretations expressed are not necessarily the official position of the COGOP. The Office of the COGOP Africa General Presbyter and Level 2 Harvest Partners sponsored the trip to Zimbabwe.