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Cuthbert "Cutty’’ Rwodzi: An Ode To ‘My Other Half’

Harare – The late Cuthbert “Cutty” Rwodzi, who passed on recently was a character of very few words, but his actions were louder. He was wit...

Harare – The late Cuthbert “Cutty” Rwodzi, who passed on recently was a character of very few words, but his actions were louder.

He was witty, composed and always thoughtful. Often, he elected an appropriate moment to speak, and when he did, it made his listeners to laugh heartily. 

In school, he was a fashionista, always unpacking the latest fashion trends.

By @Comic24Derick

Reebok, Nike, Adidas – you name it, Cuthbert donned all, showing us, his peers the way. Along the way, I, too, become his admirer, although I could not match his profound taste.

The first cut

Our first encounter was in 1996 at Zengeza High 1, for our Advanced Level. Then, I was a football fanatic. Locally, I supported Dynamos, and Chelsea on the international stage. Every Monday, we gathered before lessons to digested the previous weekend matchdays.

We debated aggressively, with other supporters. Luckily these sociable debates did not degenerate into disorder. Then, we didn’t have computers at school, so we relied on the daily publication, The Herald – our information ‘bible’.

Each day, the school bought two copies of the publication and deposited them into the library. The whole school took turns reading the newspaper. It was a long wait but worth it, when your turn finally arrived.
Standing From Left to Right (Pride Chiota, Lloyd Maponga). Kneeling from Left to Right (Derick Matsengarwodzi and Cuthbert Rwodzi, the Late. Image Captured in 1997 at Zengeza High 1) 
One thing that struck me was Cuthbert’s interest in crossword puzzles. With his pen in hand, he patiently solved the puzzles. Contrary, my favorite section was the sports page. Other news sections would have to wait.

As we spoke during our initial brief meetings, we located some common interests.

Inventive artist

Sometime in 1996, I wanted to send a birthday present to a German friend. For the past few years, it had become customary for us to send each other presents, and on this particular occasion, I was not sure what to give her.

Before, I had sent her small articles, but this time, I was seeking something unique to reciprocate her kind gesture, when she surprised me with a Walkman cassette stereo player – a rare luxury during our childhood era.

While I was considering the options, Cuthbert came to the rescue, suggesting that I send my friend an artifact. After school, we went to his home. At the entrance, gigantic sculptures stood guard, giving the home a pleasant, imaginative outlook.

Inside, there were more figurines, all uniquely designed, ready for the market. He disappeared briefly into the workshop and then brought a prettily handcrafted, Zimbabwe bird. Instantly, I adored the flawless creativity, and I knew my friend would love it, too.

That following week, I sent the artifact to her. Three months later, I received positive feedback, that Anke, my German pen pal was equally astounded, and she promised to find a special place for it. She too promised to return the kind gesture, all because of Cuthbert’s imagination.

‘My other half’

My full name is Derick is Matsengarwodzi. Interestingly, the last part (Rwodzi) was Cuthbert's surname. From the day we met, we were thrilled by the coincidence. 

Whenever we met afterward, he would shout Derick Matsenga (one who chews)-Rwodzi (tree buck), meaning that ‘I chewed him’ since he was a Rwodzi. Some imaginative students preferred Matsenga (Cutty) to shorten my 14-letter surname.

Besides the surnames, we had other mutual interests at school and beyond. Cuthbert was an athlete. I recall, the days we spent on the football ground, playing a game of soccer, sometimes for a small amount at stake.

For hours, we tussled on the school grounds, celebrated when we scored, contested vehemently with the referee when we felt cheated. In the end, the games strengthen our bonds. It was just a game, after all. We treasured our friendship more than everything.

Once, in 1997, we formed a journalism club, which had about five students, Cuthbert included. We aimed to travel to all sporting events mainly to capture the various events, then write news articles. 

Our patron Mrs Betty Makoni, the Girl Child Network (GCN) founder, suggested that we draft some articles. Together, we scribbled some and submitted them to her. She made her input and directed us to the computer teacher.

At the computer lab, the teacher said “we could not use the computers to type our documents because we were not trained, so we had to wait for someone to do it for us.” For almost a week, we waited patiently for the positive feedback. Each time we asked, we got the same dismissive response.

Two weeks onwards, our project collapsed before it took off. Surprisingly, the computers were rarely used, except by a few ‘selected’ students, otherwise, the computer lab was always locked. That episode disheartened us but we gained some life lessons.

The engineer

After high school, we pursued different callings. Cuthbert chose to pursue engineering. He clearly, enjoyed the trade. During his internship, he would pitch at my home, even during weekdays, offering to buy drinks.

Together, we visited the nightspots dotted at Chikwanha Shopping Centre, then known for its ungoverned nightlife escapades. Together, we hopped from one nightspot to the next, in pursuit of danceable reggae tunes and other pleasures associated with such places.

Before sunup, we rode home, reciting the previous night’s event, with promises of another drinking spree. In some instances, we would not meet for weeks, but when we did, with Cuttty around, there was rarely a dull moment. Indeed, he knew how to engineer a memorable outing.

After I relocated outside the country, we were temporarily separated. On my return, I met him on irregular occasions. Although I had quit beer, we would engage as before.

Final retreat 

On August 28, around 11 am, I received a troubling message from a friend in Namibia. He forwarded a message pronouncing Cuthbert's death, according to a Facebook post. Yes, it was true, Cuthbert was no more. Not convinced, I went to his parent's house to confirm.

At the homestead, along Mupini Drive, I was met by subdued faces, confirming the sad news. As I sat down to speak to the family members, more people gathered. It is said, that after being reported missing for almost a month, his body was finally located in a mortuary.

On September 1, Cuthbert was laid to rest in Hurungwe village. Sadly, I was not there, nor his other friends. Even in his absence, I will always salute him for being a friend who pitched, unannounced, to check on me.

For that period, I was privileged to have known you, Cutty. Be assured that not even death will erase those memories. Go well ‘my other half’. You might have departed, but your legacy is a testimony. 

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