First published in LinkedIn Sept 5, 2016; two days after her death.
Mel: Yeah. I miss y'all too. We all became family for two weeks.
Me: We're family... It was time to find each other. That's why we met.
(WhatsApp conversation after our Sanganai-Zimbabwe experience)
Today is Monday September 5, 2016… It’s two days now since the news broke on social media. Somehow, I hope it was some kind of joke – but who would devise such wickedness as sport? Still, I hoped someone would come out and say, “Hey guys, we’re sorry. It was a little joke. We didn’t know you guys…bla, bla, bla…”
BSadly, it’s not a joke. But it’s wicked and painful… I can’t even start to describe the kind of human being you were. I remember our last day in Zimbabwe. That morning, you came to see Michael and I at the Holiday Inn, Harare. I didn’t expect to see you again after you handed us over to Lizzie in Bulawayo. I thought, you should have gone on break after coordinating such a crazy tour group like we had with different nationalities and temperaments. But you showed up to see us. I was reluctant to hug you. I like being emotionless, and I suspected I would cling on to you longer than necessary. I had enjoyed my stay in Zimbabwe, every minute of every day.
I remember when we first arrived in Harare. It was a long flight from Lagos, via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We touched down early morning on June 7; it was well past 02:30am. You were waiting to receive us, you and Kuda and a driver. As soon as we got past immigration, you called my name, “David.” It was the first time we were meeting in flesh and blood, but we had conversed via email and WhatsApp.
From the airport, we went to the Rainbow Towers and you and Kuda checked us in and promised to see us later in the day… We saw later in the evening at the meeting for everyone in the tour group. June 8, and you led the group out on a tour of your beloved country. From Harare to Kariba, via Chinhoyi. Kariba to Vic Falls, to Hwange to Bulawayo.
We had memorable moments. I tried to catch you off guard with the camera, but I never succeeded much. You were pretty much aware of your environment, a testament to your diligence and focus. Yet death sneaked in on you and plucked you out like a tender little flower, threw you on the ground without care or remorse, stomped on you, dealing you a fate without recourse.
I was sure we would see again at Sanganai/Hlanganani 2017. I was so sure… But now the inevitable has occurred. I never got to send you all your pictures… You asked me to, and I said I would. I promised you…
It was only a short time, yet it felt like we’d known each other forever. When the news broke, the only thing I could write on your wall was “Why?” No one expected you to depart so soon. We were blindsided… Sometimes I want to hold myself guilty for not being sensitive, perhaps God wanted me to stand in the gap and forestall the evil satan had planned for that September morning. Perhaps the Spirit of God called on me, but I was too deep in slumber to realise such an important matter was at hand. So I slept when I ought to be praying…
I’m sorry, Belinda. I wish I knew… It’s difficult to step past the pain. I pray the Lord comfort your parents, your siblings, your precious daughter Chloe, your wonderful colleagues at the ZTA and all your friends and loved ones.
Farewell, my friend Belinda…