African diplomats’ spouses console First Lady, family First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa receives flowers from Mrs Luisa Filipe Lucio, wife of Mozambican Ambassador to Zimbabwe, and Mrs Umutesi Katushabe Julian from Rwanda, who were representing their colleagues during their visit to console Dr Mnangagwa following the loss of her grandson

Tendai Rupapa
Senior Reporter
SPOUSES of African ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe on Friday visited First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa to console her after the recent death of her grandson, Yasha Mafidi Mnangagwa, in a massive show of unity among women and the need to comfort one another in times of sorrow.

Yasha, who was aged five, died of respiratory complications.

The women included Umutesi Katushabe Julian, the wife to the Rwandan ambassador, Eugenia Luisa Filipe Lucio, the wife to the Mozambican ambassador, Wetso Ifu, the wife to the Nigerian ambassador, Chifundo Polepole, the wife to the Malawian ambassador, Umsour Ibrahim Khalid Elbasheer, the wife to the Sudanese Charge d’Affaires and Rosaline Kallon, the wife to the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Zimbabwe.

Speaking on behalf of the spouses of diplomats, Umutesi Katushabe Julian said they shared the First Lady’s grief and wished her and her family strength during this difficult time.

“As African mothers, we felt it, we know what it means and how deep it is. We thought we would try by all means to come physically to commiserate with you and also on behalf of our dear spouses. We were devastated when we heard the news.

“Deep inside our hearts we know how heavy it is and we cannot say what which will ease your pain as a family but we pray God comforts you, he heals the broken hearts. It is the Lord who gives and he is the same who takes. The innocent soul, as parents we also loved him but the creator loved him more than us.

“We have come in solidarity to say we are sorry and we are there for you. We are praying that God brings smiles on your faces and mends your broken hearts. This is our first time to meet and we are grateful for your warm welcome.

“It is also a good thing that as African women, we have come together to console each other. We pray for courage and wisdom because you have a lot you are doing for this country. May the healing hand of God be upon you and your family,” she said as she handed Dr Mnangagwa a bouquet of flowers.

The wife to the Malawian ambassador said it was painful to bury young children as most parents looked forward to being buried by their children and not the other way round.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa receives a condolence message from Mrs Umutesi Katushabe Julian from Rwanda and Mrs Luisa Filipe Lucio, wife of Mozambican Ambassador to Zimbabwe, who were representing their colleagues during their visit to console Dr Mnangagwa on the loss of her grandson

“You don’t have a child so that they go first. We expect us to go first. We expect our children to bury us. We know that there is pain in your heart, but God is a God of love and God is with you,” she said in her words of comfort.

Mrs Kallon added saying: “We are also mothers and we feel your pain, we are so sorry and we are with you in prayers. God is God of love and he will bring back the happiness in your family.”

The wife to the Mozambican ambassador chipped in saying, “We are deeply hurt with what happened. May the good Lord wipe your tears.”

The First Lady chronicled what happened leading to the death of her grandson to the ladies who also took the opportunity to commend her for the work she does through her Angel of Hope Foundation.

Amai Mnangagwa was in Kanyemba conducting several community empowerment programmes when she was informed of the illness of her grandchild.

She had taken her detergents making project and traditional meal cook-out competition to the Doma community.

In addition, she held the nhanga/gota/ixhiba, male engagement programmes and also interacted with teen mothers before donating an assortment of goods to the people and initiating new projects.She spent seven days conducting the programmes for the benefit of the Doma people and surrounding communities.

Kanyemba is Zimbabwe’s northernmost point, diagonally opposite the confluence of Luangwa and Zambezi rivers, with the Zambian town of Luangwa to the north and Mozambique’s Zumbo town to the east.

Amai Mnangagwa gave the women a background of her philanthropic work and extended an invitation to them to go with her to some of her programmes so that they could have an appreciation of her works, which they gladly accepted.

She described the gesture to visit her and commiserate with her as a sign of sisterhood and motherhood.

Women offer each other support in difficult times and the meeting was the first of its kind since the women had never met with the First Lady.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa poses for a photograph with wives of African Ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe who visited to console her following the loss of her grandson Mafidi Yasha Mnangagwa. They are Mrs Luisa Filipe Lucio from Mozambique (far left), Mrs Umsour Ibrahim Khalid Elbasheer from Sudan, Mrs Chifundo Polepole from Malawi, Mrs Umutesi Katushabe Julian from Rwanda, Mrs Wentso Ifu from Nigeria and Mrs Rosaline Kallon, wife to United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Zimbabwe (far right), at Zimbabwe House on Friday

“Your coming here to be with me and to express your motherhood, your oneness as women with me during this difficult time, has eased my pain,” she said while fighting back tears.

She gave an account of the strange happenings that took place in Kanyemba before she received the sad news on the illness of Yasha.

A herd of elephants had exhibited unusual behaviour at a place she was staying with her team during her working visit.

Coming across elephants has never been considered an ill omen. However, the weird show by the giant beasts appeared to show that calamity was likely to happen.

“I had gone to Kanyemba where I visited many villages, including the Doma community, conducting different programmes and projects and I spent seven days there.

“My programmes were stretched to cover that borderline. So on a Friday, a day before my departure day, I came back from that day’s programme and went back to where we were staying in that area. I always stay at that same place whenever I visit Kanyemba.

“For the first time with my team, we saw a herd of elephants gathered at our residence and showing unusual and unexplainable signs which alarmed us. They were about eight of them.

“Though there is wildlife around the area, but in all the times we had gone there, we had never seen a herd of elephants and it was the unusual behaviour which they exhibited at our residence which frightened us.

“We just watched and I didn’t think of anything, but it was my first time seeing that. Then some people jokingly said ‘Mhamha the elephants have come to greet you, they are happy to see you’.

“They then walked a few metres from us and gathered before they went away after some time. But from that time, I had a premonition that something bad was about to happen. I felt something that I could not explain. I was not myself. On Saturday morning, we went back to the Doma community for a wedding.

“It is a previously marginalised community and people never used to visit them so there was a wedding and I wanted to go and see how they do it in their culture.

“While at the wedding, a phone call was made to one of my team members and she came and whispered to me that my grandson Yasha had been taken to hospital.

“I was with Yasha’s mum, my daughter-in-law in Kanyemba during that time. She had accompanied me. Straight-away, I had to give what I had brought as a present for that wedding. I neither gave a speech nor congratulated the newly-weds. We quickly left and rushed to the hospital where I asked what had happened,” she said.

She continued: “I was told he had suffered respiratory complications before they rushed him to hospital. On Sunday morning, we went back with Baba to the hospital around 6am to see him. I looked at the faces of the doctors while they were explaining to us, but I could tell something was wrong. That inner instinct as a mother was telling me something.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa with wives of African Ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe who visited to console her following the loss of her grandson Mafidi Yasha Mnangagwa. They are Mrs Umsour Ibrahim Khalid Elbasheer from Sudan, Mrs Wentso Ifu from Nigeria, Mrs Umutesi Katushabe Julian from Rwanda, Mrs Rosaline Kallon, wife to United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Zimbabwe, and Mrs Chifundo Polepole from Malawi, (far right) at Zimbabwe House on Friday. – Pictures: John Manzongo

“Baba later left and I spent the whole day there with my daughter-in-law, my son and other family members but sadly Yasha left us on that day,” she said while wiping tears.

“This happened when I was doing community upliftment programmes and we came back to such a difficult time which we didn’t expect.”

She thanked the ambassador’s spouses for their visit.

“Your gesture of coming here is very important and I want to thank you my sisters. This means a lot to me and my family that when you are in problems like the situation I am in now and you have friends, you have sisters, women coming to you is very important. That’s what we are here for on earth, there’s nothing else we can do. I hope Yasha is in safe hands.

“I feel better when I come to the office but when I go home it will be something else. I would like to thank you very much on behalf of my husband and the whole family.

“I will share with them what you have shown us and being with us at such a time. What is left for me is praying for my son and the daughter-in-law.

“They are young and that’s the only child they had. It’s difficult and they look up to us, Baba and myself. I am trying my sisters, I am trying to calm them down although it is also difficult for me.

“Your coming here means a lot and it is our first time meeting. Your coming here has opened something new,” the First Lady said.

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