Well, what do you know? Everything that we do or say lives on decades after we are long gone. Whether knowing or unknowingly, we become our own builders or destroyers from the way we relate to others or conduct business. Sadly, though, when we die, there is always something good to be said about the deceased. But I believe the moment of truth always rears its head from time to time when we meet people who have had firsthand experience with the goners. They are the ones with real tales to tell when they subtly and spontaneously comment about who we were.
It was such an emotional moment recently when a group of women journalists from Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda gathered in Harare recently for their journalistic business when one of the media gurus in Botswana gave a stupendous reference to my father, Horace Somanje’s contribution to her journalistic journey. This woman, currently the owner of her own newspaper was among a five member panel of women journalists that headed a session to tell of their personal experiences and journey through the male-dominated career which usually is thorny because of stereotypes.
As each woman outlined her struggles and determination to overcome them, the Motswana woman, when her turn came, told how she saw no light to breaking through journalism as the domineering menfolk took turns rejecting to publish her stories. She said had it not been for Horace, who took the chance to publish her very first article, God knows where she would have been now. She even said that she still keeps the first press card my father signed and was willing to show the audience.
Her pride was added on upon meeting her hero’s daughter, me, when she went ahead to tell the gathering that it was, yet, another honour for her to have met the product of the very person who catapulted her career to where she was.
Well, I was honoured too, to have been asked to stand for the rest to recognise who she was referring to and my heart bled at the emotional attachment I felt on behalf of my daddy, whom I believe smiled and felt proud of his blood representation. It was satisfying, carrying his honour 15 years after his demise. I did not cry, but waved to the crowd as he would have had he been present.
I first met this woman during lunch and our introduction came spontaneously. As we talked, some girls from Botswana came to her, to reveal how shocked there were that I spoke fluent Setswana. This woman went further to inquire how I learned the language and that’s when she got to know me. Almost immediately, she begun taking out a copy of some publication to take to my father, but I told her he died. She paused and her hand fell out of the bag she was to fish the publication.
We are and will always remain mirrors of those we love or loved us. Everything that we do lives on to speak for us when we die. My father was far from perfect and I am certain there is a cohort of enemies awaiting an opportunity to tell me off about his atrocities and take them out on me. It is normal and inevitable. However, this one was on the positive side and I revered the moment. Legacies live on and this was partly my father’s. n