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Ambassadors for Peace

Farewell to Bishop Abel Muzorewa

Mutare, Zimbabwe - I arrived in Zimbabwe on the evening of April 16 to attend the funeral of the late Bishop and UPF Presiding Council Member Abel Muzorewa. Rev. Iyolangomo Bosako, Secretary General of UPF-Zimbabwe, with some brothers and Dr. Mphurutsa welcomed me at the new airport of Harare. We arranged to meet the next day to travel to the town of Mutare in Manicaland, where the funeral was to take place.

Rev. Bosako, Dr. Mpfuruta, Dr. Mukone, Brother L. Mutonda and I met on the following morning at 7:00 to depart for Mutare, about 260 km southwest of Harare near the border of Mozambique. It took us about three hours to reach the turnoff to the mission station, Old Mutare.

The Mission is situated at the foot of a hill, beautifully surrounded by hills in the background. We parked our car and joined the mourners who were sitting under the shade of trees and tents in a big yard between the old church and school buildings. We learned that over 3,000 mourners gathered to bid farewell to the late bishop.

Bishops and missionaries of various churches from east and southern Africa as well as Zimbabwe gave short testimonies from a stage in front of the coffin. It was purely a church function, and even the high government officials were not called upon to speak. We greeted the family members and the government officials.

The service ended with an altar call and a recorded song by Bishop Muzorewa: “…Till we meet again…,” which resounded in the yard as everyone joined into the chorus.

We then proceeded to the burial site, an old cemetery behind Harzell Secondary School, at the foot of the hill. Next to the new grave for the bishop is the grave of his late wife Margaret, who passed away last year. Hymns played over a public address system. Prayers were offered by bishops, and the coffin was lowered. Soil was sprinkled over the coffin and the bishops were asked to lay wreaths and flowers. We also offered our wreath and flowers as our last farewell greetings.

The close family members of the bishop were nearby; we expressed our deepest condolences to them. The Muzorewas had several painful bereavements within a short time. Just the previous week, a brother of the bishop was put to rest. The bishop is survived by three sons and one daughter.

Bishop Abel Muzorewa founded the African University, one of the best in Zimbabwe, which is at the mission station, and he developed the secondary school and the hospital there. He was Prime Minister during the transition to independence of Zimbabwe, which celebrated its 30th, anniversary on April 18, and a dedicated member of the Presiding Council of the Universal Peace Federation. He was a man of wisdom and good counsel, an educator, a man of great vision and courage, a loving father, and a man who loved God and his country. He will be missed by many.

With the sun setting, we drove back to Harare, arriving safely at nightfall. On Sunday I was invited to give the address at the worship service at the Peace Embassy.

Zimbabwe is still in a difficult economic/political situation. The legal currency used now is the US dollar, which makes life much easier, as the inflation reached astronomical figures. The water supply has improved, but we experienced many power outages. It is not easy for industry to recover in such a situation. The agricultural sector had been the backbone of the economy; it will take time to recover, since many farms and ranches are underused. Zimbabwe had been a food exporting nation, but now depends on imports of essentials.

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