By Rex Mphisa
BEITBRIDGE town was partially deserted yesterday morning as hundreds of the border town’s residents thronged Mtetengwa communal lands to send off a community leader and businessman Isaka Tshivi, who died last week.
Tshivi, fondly known as Mulalo, Venda for peace, might have not been declared by government as a hero, neither did he get a state-assisted funeral, but the crowds that thronged his village and family’s burial acre easily accorded him the status.
Motor vehicles from the border town made a beeline stretching for more than 5km along the Bulawayo highway as people visited the Tshivi homestead to bid farewell to the man who died after a long illness.
The same vehicle convoy cut across Mtetengwa village and temporarily brought traffic between Bulawayo and Beitbridge to a standstill as mourners drove to the Tshivi family graveyard about 5km from the village shared with Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and his divorced wife Tambudzani, both related to Tshivi.
No one really mentioned his otherwise heroic contribution during the war as a youth activist of note in the Zimbabwe African People’s Union, which saw him being detained for almost a year without trial.
His academic exploits as an accounting diploma certificate holder in then Rhodesia, an achievement of note in the past, was not even talked about.
Yet his humility and expertise in nurturing drivers, a self-taught business he started in 2 000, his warm advice to upcoming businessmen, his attitude above petty tribal politics and religious attendance to issues of Beitbridge town’s development was topical as he was laid to rest.
His love to debate developmental issues glowed in the memories of many present during the Venda early morning burial ritual, a ceremony which started as early as 4am and ended just after daybreak when he was laid to rest.
Beitbridge town clerk Loud Ramagkapola described Tshivi as an active participant in developmental issues who gave his time to issues concerning his home town.
“He was a man who was concerned with the development of this town.
“Each time there were issues to do with signage, accidents and potholes, Mulalo would always call in the office and advise,” Ramagkapola said in a graveside interview.
“He was also concerned about driving schools that were not paying their dues to council and besides, he was full of history and memory of past events within the Beitbridge municipality and we have lost a library, which we were always tapping from.”
A security representative of a company contracted at the Beitbridge border post, Godknows Nhokwara, said during disturbances that rocked the border post on July 1, 2016, Tshivi gave shelter to security guards whose lives were under threat from rioters.
“The rioters ended up burning a state warehouse, but Tshivi sensing possible threat to life, gave the guards shelter and saved them.
“He was selfless and put his life on the block for the guards,” said Nhokwara.
Speaker after speaker gave heart-warming testimonies of how Tshivi, born on January 2, 1952 at Beitbridge District Hospital, led a simple life yet positively influencing others.
Beitbridge paramount chief, the youthful David Mbedzi, whose title is Chief Tshitauze, appealed to his people to be calm and follow the footsteps of Tshivi, whose love for others was visible.
Senator Tambudzani Mohadi, parliamentarians Ruth Maboyi, Albert Nguluvhe, Lisa Singo and diplomat Aaron Maboyi joined scores of businessmen, civil servants and people from all walks of life from as far afield as Johannesburg, Harare and Bulawayo together with Mtetengwa villagers to pay tribute to Tshivi who distinguished himself as a social giant.
“Here is how a hero is defined, it’s simply not by proclamation, but how one lived within his community,” Beitbridge deputy mayor Munyaradzi Chitsunge.
Family spokesman Elias Tshivi said he was at a loss for words.
“The people have given our brother a befitting send-off. He was a pillar we will never be able to forget. We lost a good man,” he said.
Tshivi is survived by 19 children from his two wives and was a grandfather of 25.