Of Covid19 restrictions and pain : In memory of Stanford ‘Khuya’ Khumalo 1968-2020
I don’t want to be remembered for being liked. I want to be remembered for being real. – G Gregg Murray
One of the most painful things Covid19 has brought is the pain of being unable to travel beyond one’s local boundary as efforts to contain the scourge are being enforced. In this stricture has come the pain of not being able to mourn and bid loved ones good bye.
I spent four years of school with Stanford Khumalo and he was outstanding in a number of ways.
He belonged to that generation of persons whose school going tenure had been greatly affected by the liberation struggle of Zimbabwe. He had lost at least seven years of education due to the struggle and most had not bothered to return to school post independence.
Not so with Stanford. He entered Form One at 21 and pulled through to Ordinary level. Amongst those of his age were Peter Ngwenya a towering gangling giant who was to be my deputy Headboy in Form Four and Bernard who went on to be the first to want to drop Technical Drawing as he could not stomach the punishments meted by the late Mr Mehluli Ngwenya.
A day in class with Khuya, as Miss Nyoni, our Ndebele teacher would call him, was full of spills and thrills. He was streetwise thought culturally steeped and respectful. When excited he would get into a frenzied gesture mode and all his narrations ended up with him standing up and re enacting the stories he was telling with impulsive kicks and gestures.
He had stories from eMaguswini (Nkayi), he could narrate the mystery of the late Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, he had experienced the bitter pain of the Gukurahundi atrocities but still he would be simple enough to ask us to help him with unraveling the mystery of Animal Farm and the simultaneous equations of Mathematics.
I last saw him in 1992 when we finished Olevel and got to speak to him briefly three years ago on the phone when he implored that we should form an Old Boys Association for our school and help put it on the leading pedestal. I committed to find him if I came to Bulawayo and show him my daughter. I deeply regret that I didn’t.
On 08th April 2020 I got a call from him. Out of the blue. He still called me his General from my Headboy stint at school together despite my insisting that he was my leader by age. We spoke at length about about our classmates and he still requested that I should come to see him. I promised him that the first trip I made into Bulawayo post the lockdown i was going to stop and the City Council offices and look for him first before I saw anyone else. We bade each other with brotherly tidings.
On 11th May 2020 Stanford Khuya Khumalo passed on. When the news was broken I was deeply hurt as I had lost an opportunity to reconnect with a senior brother who had gone put of his way twice to look for me and request that we meet.
I was hurt by my assuming that both of us were going to be here post Covid19. I was hurt by the things I took for granted. I was gutted by the fact the he died and his desire for us to reconnect after 28 years later did not materialize. This made me realise that it is important to reach out to loved ones and avoid excuses as anything could happen to us in the interim.
So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.
Ecclesiastes 3:22 NLT
I am sad to have lost out on an opportunity to reconnect with my great leader. I lost out on an opportunity to gain insight of what he thought of or country and the world at large. I missed a great opportunity because I took time and chance for granted and lost a brother.
Lala kuhle Khuya
Wena kaMzilikazi kaMatshobane
Sleep well my leader !
PS At the time of writing the Legends group had put up a fund that had raised up to USD 200 and close to ZWL 4000 to support the family of our leader.
Suggestions are being mooted to support his children through school and possibly sponsor an annual Stanford Khumalo Memorial at Inyanda High School. Class and Form mates of that year can get in touch with Nkosilathi Nkiwane on app +263772387283 for more details.
The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example. – Benjamin Disraeli