BY VANNESSA GUZHA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday paid tribute to the late Catholic priest Father Emmanuel Francis Ribeiro , who died yesterday at the age of 86, for saving his life over 50 years ago.
Ribeiro is credited for helping nationalists, including the late former President Robert Mugabe and Edgar Tekere cross into neighbouring Mozambique during the liberation war.
He died yesterday morning at St Anne’s Hospital where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
“Almost 50 years ago, Father Ribeiro saved my life. When I was sentenced to death in prison, this great man fought for me to live,” Mnangagwa said, describing him as a gifted composer, talented writer and a true Zimbabwean hero.
Mnangagwa was condemned to death for blowing up a train in Fort Victoria, but was saved because of age, when he was a teenager then.
Ribeiro is also believed to have given shelter to Mugabe and another liberation hero Enos Nkala after their release from prison by the Ian Smith settler regime.
The novelist also headed the committee that penned Zimbabwe’s national anthem and contributed to the design of the national flag.
He is also credited for composing over 17 Roman Catholic Church songs.
Born in 1935 in Chivhu, Ribeiro attended school at Kutama Mission, Gokomere and Gweru Teachers’ College before studying theology at Chishawasha.
He enrolled for a masters’ degree at Bloomington College of Music in the United States.
Ribeiro was also a correspondent for the BBC.
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