Joshua Nkomo is one of the fathers of African nationalism, and stands alongside Africa’s greatest fighters against colonialism, and injustice. He is right up there with the greatest of them.
He was the epitome of courage.
Although he was now in his eighties, he had still kept much of the huge frame, which was one of his distinguishing features. He also had a quick temper:
Even as I entered his office, in the central government offices, he shouted loudly at me:
“What are all these bad things I hear being said about you, young man?”
I stood there, frozen, at first. Then he gestured to me, with his walking stick, and pointed at the door; telling me to shut it, behind me. I then sat down on a chair in front of his desk.
“Baba”, I said in a quiet voice, “you do not believe that, do you?”
He stared at me, for a few moments, then he shook his head, slowly, “No, I don’t. But let me hear your side of the story.”
He listened quietly, and intently, occasionally asking sharp questions. It was clear that he had been well briefed about it. I also realised that the shouting had been for people outside the room to hear, as there were always large numbers of people, in his reception. He was a very shrewd man.
I shared with him, pretty much, all that you all know now, including my deep faith and trust in God. I even shared with him some of my testimonies. He wanted to know everything.
Finally, he rose up, and asked me to stay where I was sitting. Initially, I thought he had gone to the bathroom, but he was gone for what seemed like an hour. I just sat there, and prayed. When he returned, he slumped himself in his chair, and began muttering audibly to himself. I heard everything that he said. He looked deeply concerned, and shook his head, several times.
After a few minutes, he asked me to walk out the office with him. We walked out slowly, together, into the bright African sunlight.
He insisted that I walk by his side.
He wanted people to see me, walking with him, and I escorted him along the corridors to his waiting car. Several people, seeing me, walking with him, came nervously out of their offices, and also shook my hand, or patted my back. Others just stared.
On a number of occasions he said loudly, to people who came up to greet us, “this one is not a sell out. He is true son of Zimbabwe.”
People loved him.
The persecution against me, ended that day.
Last part to follow.
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa