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Thomas Zawaira: A Man of the People, Humble Till Death

Harare – The late Thomas Robert Zawaira’s (TZ) infectious smile always struck an irresistible eternal effect. Avidly referred as Bla Tom t...

Harare – The late Thomas Robert Zawaira’s (TZ) infectious smile always struck an irresistible eternal effect.

Avidly referred as Bla Tom to his legion of networks – his death triggered by a heart attack on 4 August remains topical.

By @Comic24Derick

During his 54 years of existence, he had developed a rare aptitude to mingle with everybody – while his versatile character fitted in diverse situations.

Ghetto boy
Thomas Zawaira was born in Masvingo in 1963. His family briefly relocated to Harare.

His undying love of ghetto life largely shaped his beliefs. Though he had scaled the social status ladder – he nominated to remain rooted in Chitungwiza – his home till the fateful day.

“I always argued with him when he would relocate to the suburbs – but Thomas told me he would die in the ghetto because he was a man of the people,” recollected Walter Mzembi, the Tourism Minister – a boyhood colleague.
The Late Thomas Zawaira aka TZ or Bla Tom was Loved by Many
Everywhere he appeared – Bla Tom was mobbed by ordinary folks.

In turn, he unleashed his inborn smirk with regular abundance, even charming his foes. Roman Catholic worshipers appreciated his selfless approach towards God – while the community benefited immensely.

Father figure

Bla Tom extracted his affable features from his late father Thomas Zawaira – the first black Mayor for Masvingo. In his family, he remains a celebrated father figure.

“My father loved us. He provided me with everything that I needed. I feel hurt by his sudden departure,” said his daughter Runako in her father’s brief eulogy.

With his wife Josephine – the couple had three children. During his funeral wake, mourners disclosed the deceased’s ability to mend rifts.

“He always championed for unity amongst his connections,” cited many.

After attaining a business degree from the University of Zimbabwe, he joined the banking sector in 1990. He remained loyal to his employer – serving 27 years.

His working colleagues revered his leadership style – alongside his benevolent nature. Despite his hefty workload, he allocated time for socialising – and performed his church duties diligently.

The artiste

At the time of his death, Bla Tom was working on a forthcoming musical tag team with Oliver Mtukudzi.

His initial jazz offering – Lost and Found featured musical gurus, producer Clive Mukundu plus – drummer Sam Mataure, somehow predicted his future, especially the first track.

“I first met Thomas at Steve Chikosi’s album launch in 2011 and he promised to come and do his own album. We started working on the album and we completed it in 2015,” revealed Mukundu.

His musical journey dates back to his juvenile years. “He would sit and play his makeshift tin guitar, making a lot of noise until our mother would chase him away,” evokes his sister, Felistas.

The love for music was never dwarfed by his banking career. He mingled with singers on various platforms.

And their overwhelming presence at his funeral was an echoing avowal of his tag: ‘musical professor’ accorded to him by journalist, Terrence Mapurisana.

‘The last supper’

My last encounter with Bla Tom’s friendly persona was on 16 April 2017. “I am home alone. I would like to come to your place. Please tell your wife to cook sadza for me,” he wrote during our interaction.

In the afternoon, he arrived. Always exuding with an optimistic attitude, we chatted over a meal of home-baked bread – followed by the main meal. He would soon embark on his annual leave, he mentioned.

At sunset, he departed. We promised to reciprocate his gesture. Sadly, that became our last physical get-together.

At the next meeting, I was giving my last respect as he lay motionless in his casket. Despite his immobile status, Bla Tom’s affection reverberated inside the gloomy chapel – before his final passage to Glen Forest cemetery.

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