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Emerson 'John' Madondo: Farewell to our Own 'Englishman'

Harare – Never had I imagine offloading my tears publicly. Maybe I was not honest with my feelings.  Then, on Wednesday, the 18th of Februar...

Harare – Never had I imagine offloading my tears publicly. Maybe I was not honest with my feelings. 

Then, on Wednesday, the 18th of February 2015 – it happened – involuntarily as I rose to pay tribute to a dear friend and brother, Emerson Madondo.

I had chronicled my friendship with the late 'master' of the English language better known as Dostoevsky to his former classmates. When I recited the last time I met Emerson – I broke down. Emotions had overtaken me. I wept nonstop for my departed brother. As you recite, this my eyes are damp with painful emotions.

My last encounter with Emerson was on Thursday, 12th February 2015 – a week before he died. He was at home recuperating from a meningitis bout. Though he complained of loss of strength, I encouraged him to soldier on. Our discussion centered on love. I mentioned that we had lost love for each other.

Material World
I mentioned to him that we had become more materialistic. Back at school, we could share virtually everything, unlike today. "We need prayer to foster love amongst people despite one's social status. The world cannot be taught love by drunkards, who can share cigarettes and beer, while the rest fight for inferior things."

The devil has rendered us ‘ever busy’ even to love ourselves. Imagine how we work ourselves to the grave and always find convenient vindications to miss out on family events. "Money has become a barometer for love. Contrary, wealth is meant to win more souls to Christ."
A blast of the Past: Emmerson Madondo and Classmates at Sandringham High 
Before we departed, we prayed over his health. I had hoped to see him recovering. I promised to visit him again and share some old stories. We had chatted with former friends, some of who are now in lands afar. Unknown to us, fate had something in store.

This would be my last encounter with the 'master' of English. Back home, I prayed for his recovery. But God had other options. Emerson's health deteriorated further. When I received a message of his death, I travelled to his home to confirm. Indeed, ‘Dostoevsky’ was no more.

Melancholic Chapter
On Monday, the 16th of February he was admitted to Chitungwiza General Hospital. At 3 am, on Tuesday, the 17th of February, Emerson was pronounced dead. This was an end to a man who had defied odds to become a renowned science teacher.

Yes, at the time of his death he was the head of the science department at his school. He had also assumed the role of English teacher. He told me his students had passed. I was not surprised.

I befriended Emerson, one year my senior mainly because of his English prowess. Together with Percy Zvomuya, they were doyens of the subject during their era. The late Emerson was a reserved but bold character. I know he was patient. He read voluminous literature that many cannot tackle. Reading is an art. Emerson was endowed with such.

These guys could construct essays reminiscent of an action movie. I had numerous encounters with him, even after our school tenure. On the soccer field, he was a solid defender who tackled opponents with vigour. And he was synonymous with his thick spectacles, especially to teachers.

The Beginning
The late Emerson was born on 8th October in 1977. He attended Seke 7 Primary School. For his secondary, he was at Sandringham High School. In 1995, he was at Seke High 1 for his Advanced Level. He was later enrolled at Belvedere Teacher’s College. For the past fourteen years, he was a teacher and active in sports activities. In early 2015, he was taken ill with a meningitis bout.

A friend whom I had introduced to Emerson informed me that he was hospitalised. He had been in hospital for nearly a week. I managed to visit him on three occasions. The first day, he instantly recognised me, although I had last seen him a decade earlier. I had previously tried in vain to locate him. Now, I met him in hospital. But I knew he was a fighter.

For his Ordinary Level examinations, he travelled from Chitungwiza to Norton daily to sit for examinations. He passed. Everyone shared the same hope. When he was discharged after three weeks, he said he was ready to return to work. I trusted his instincts. But fate decided to the contrary.

During one visit, I brought him old magazines. He was still an avid reader. I reminded him of the name Dostoevsky, a moniker he was bestowed back in school. We both laughed. Later, we discussed the ongoing Afcon soccer tournament. I knew he was a football fan, so was I.

Prayer for Emmerson
Our discussion drifted to other varied topics. On each visit, I encouraged him to eat to retain his power. He responded positively. His wife's care was persistent. Love in sickness. I remain impressed.

Earlier in February, I had published a post on FB soliciting prayers for Emerson, though I did not mention his name for obvious reasons. Some friends responded asking for the identity. I am grateful to those who responded to my call including, Mutsa Gweshe, Irvine Nyamukondiwa, Evans Dube, Amos Mawuwa, and Shepherd Mutsvara. I salute you, my brothers.

May the Lord increase your love? And continue to love, even your enemies. Continue to pray for everyone in need. Do not count personal benefits to love. Distance should not limit us to love. Even after separating for a while, we were finally reunited. I know God had a purpose.

Titus, Emerson's younger brother had become closer to me because. We met regularly and shared intimate family details. He then left Harare. I also departed from Zimbabwe. A decade later, I am happy he has found Christ. Back then, we used to chat over a beer but now we can discuss our Lord, the saviour of all nations.

Purposeful Journey
Though the setting was sombre, we could discuss love towards humanity with a common understanding. I wish this love could also be attached to you, dear friends as we remember Emerson. Remember, love has no price but yet it’s expensive to acquire and maintain. Love can dismantle hatred. Love can disarm your enemy. Love has no conditions.

Emerson Madondo, a dear friend and brother, you travelled a purposeful journey. We were blessed to befriend you in your 37 years of existence. The English language is 'poorer' without your input. You inspired many, including myself to appreciate our God-given talents.

Because of you Emerson, I can write a tribute your eventful life. Farewell, my master of the English language. Without your influence, I could have achieved less. I will pursue to perfect the art you taught me until the Lord has called me. Rest in eternal peace!

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