By Farai Maguwu
Mr Alexius Manyanda, the Director of Peacebuilding and Capacity Development Foundation (PACDEF) is no more. He breathed his last Sunday 31 January
I first met Mr Manyanda in 2005 whilst doing my graduate studies in Peace and Governance at Africa University. Time for attachment came and myself and a few others in my class found ourselves with no place for attachment. As a last resort I was attached to Holiday Inn where I spent my first 2 days cleaning the toilets. One of AU lecturers, Dr, Gebremeskel Adane who was also GIZ development cooperant at Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust, eastern region, heard of my ordeal and sent word that I should meet him. We met and he said he will talk to his Director and arrange for us to meet. He then invited me to meet Mr Alexius Manyanda with whom we struck an instant friendship. He accepted me as an intern at ZIMCET and there began my civil society career. ZIMCET placed in me a responsibility to act for peace, rights and good governance.
This is the year I was writing my Masters dissertation. I had no personal computer. As my relationship with Manyanda grew, I would borrow his laptop after hours and work through the night and return it to him in the morning. My very first project proposal which got us our first grant in 2006, was written on his laptop. Later I would visit him at home and discovered that we also shared one more thing in common – our hearts were blood-red – we would share our joys and sorrows over Liverpool. He particularly adored Steve Gerrard. He was many people in one – A father, a friend, a mentor and advisor.
At ZIMCET, Mr Manyanda together with his late Field Officers Ford Neshumba and Mwayana introduced me to civic education and this shaped my career development. They set up peace committees in several communities in Manicaland which, in some cases, saw war veterans whom they had trained championing de-escalation of political hostilities in communities. I conducted my very first community workshop in 2005 under his mentorship.
It’s a shame he died during the Covid 19 hard lockdown and due to covid 19 related complications and was buried in Harare without ever getting a chance to bid his beloved Mutare farewell. Had his funeral been conducted in Mutare we would have needed a Police escort to direct traffic to his final resting place.
He wanted to see a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe. He loved his family and my heart goes out to Mrs Manyanda and children. I hope my colleagues at PACDEF will soldier on despite this devastating setback. It’s hard even to imagine how things will move forward without his stabilizing voice of calm and assurance. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace.