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with Advocate Gabriel Shumba, survivor and explorer
April 08, 2013
yourself in five words?
Loyal, Passionate, Persistent, Principled and Compassionate.
the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Count Your Blessings. The fact that I am alive today, in spite of
the many near death experiences I have endured including torture,
is testimony to the importance of that advice. As is said, whenever
you complain that you have no shoes, stop and think of the unfortunate
one who has no legs.
the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done?
Holding a one hour conversation with an American whose accent I
could not understand. I answered questions that were not asked,
and invented my own questions most of the time. On the whole, it
was an exercise in rambling and mumbling.
is your most treasured possession?
My family, but especially my first-born daughter, Remedzai Neridah.
Of materials things, I treasure most my books by Dambudzo Marechera.
From House of Hunger, the Black Sunlight to many of Flora Veit-Wild’s
compilations of his poetry.
do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When I was suspended for two years from the University of Zimbabwe.
I lived regret, and drank rejection on a daily basis.
have any strange hobbies?
Repeatedly playing music by Sungura veteran Leornard Dembo the whole
night when I am relaxing, without being bored.
do you dislike most about your appearance?
My posture. I tend to lean forward when walking, and slump when
sitting. This is deceptive in that when walking, people think I
am too aggressive, and when sitting, they believe I am a sitting
is your greatest extravagance?
When I spent all my first University payout on novels, the flea
market and drink, but never on academic books.
have you got in your fridge?
I have yoghurt for 9 month Nyaradzai Clarissah, and more yoghurt
for her sister, Wadzanai Brannah. What’s left is the beef
I love to have with my meals every day of the year! My wife, well
… she takes whatever is left.
is your greatest fear?
Being abducted and being thrown in the boot of a car. I guess this
owes a lot to the torture I suffered before I fled Zimbabwe. I also
have a very serious fear of going bonkers, and laying not only the
soul bare in public!
have you got in your pockets right now?
My wallet and passport. In South Africa it is imperative to move
around with ID documents. Otherwise the notorious Lindela Repatriation
Centre will be the next stop.
is your favourite journey?
The one I made to the United States to address the US Congress in
2004. I had not travelled much before, and the US was mind-blowing.
The journey was extremely exciting because as you can expect, I
was a huge bundle of nerves, yet there was so much to discover and
share. I confess had it not been for my family back in Africa, I
might have applied for asylum in the US.
are your heroes in real life?
Burmese politician and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson
Mandela, Barack Obama, Morgan Tsvangirai, Beatrice Mtetwa, Jestina
Mkoko, Alec Muchadehama, the late Dambudzo Marechera, the late Leonard
Dembo, the late Tonderai Ndira, my late Mother and my late Father.
and where were you happiest?
In 1994 when I arrived at the University
of Zimbabwe. We called the payout we got as government grants
‘mari yenjere’ meaning monetary compensation for our
intelligence. The UZ was ‘the academic blast furnace’.
The future was beckoning. We glimpsed wide meadowy vistas of success
around the corner. That success was not only for us, but for the
country too. We were carefree and happy. It was all to end in a
your biggest vice?
It is confidential, but add smoking. Strangely, almost all people
that I meet say that smoking does not suit me. Ask them what they
were you like at school?
I surprised myself many times passing exams because most of the
time, until ungodly hours, I was engrossed in novels by James Hadley
Chase, Allistair Maclean, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Chenjerai Hove,
Charles Mungoshi, Chinua Achebe, etc. I was also too self-opinionated.
Very rebellious and undisciplined. Of all the places, I managed
to get myself expelled from Chaplin High School towards my A level
are you doing next?
I will play it by the ear. I grab every situation and opportunity
as it arises.
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