An Ode to my Dad
Alexander ‘Gora’ Kanengoni (25/09/51 – 12/04/16)
We celebrated my dad’s memorial this past month. Yes, celebrated – never mind the gut wrenching pain, heartache, tears and the senseless hope that I’d wake up to his death being one cruel joke played on 2 months too long.
The thing is – I loved this man all of my life. I loved him in childhood with a passion built in the unattainable realities of a perfect man. Idolized the idea of the man I thought he was. My hero. Indomitable. Mightier than Samson. Wiser than Solomon. I lived to make him proud. And grew up to realise the reality of the man he was. And after the momentary disappointment of shattered childhood notions and fantasies, I realized I loved the reality of the man he was far greater than any fantasy I could ever have created.
My father was not a perfect man. Far from it. But with all his imperfections, he was, and still is, the greatest love of my life. How could he not be? How could I not love him? How could I ever find fault in him as a father to me when he was always the default head cheerleader for all his children– urging us on towards our dreams even when I know he’d much rather have held us tight and shielded us from the disappointments he knew some of our choices would inevitably yield. I craved conversations with my dad deeply growing up – I got priceless pieces of him in my adulthood. We talked, my dad and I, – openly, candidly. About a lot of things. Important things. Unimportant things. Kinda sorta important things. He laughed at my sometimes not so funny jokes, shouted out even my smallest achievements from the rooftops, picked my brain on the important and sometimes not so important issues… He let me be. Trusted me to carve out my own way towards the woman I wanted to be. And fully relished the woman I was becoming without trying to sculpt or mold me into the woman I’m sure he might have imagined I’d be. He loved me. Deeply. Unwaveringly. I never once, with the clarity of adulthood, questioned the depth and sincerity and purity of that love. He never gave me a reason to. I didn’t need to strive to make him proud. Or earn it. He just was. Of the simple things. My mind, my wit – my existence. He loved us you see, my siblings and I, – and relishing all elements of who we were was as natural to him as crafting words as masterfully as he did in his many great literary works.
We celebrated my dad’s memorial this past month. I will say it over and over and over again until it gets the ring of truth and my heart realizes that past this mind numbing pain of his loss lingers the memory of the man that my father was. And that memory needs me and those who knew and experienced the man he was to celebrate.
My father was a great man. Fought in the liberation struggle, breathed life and birthed many remarkable stories (Vicious Circle, When the Rainbird Cries, Effortless Tears, Echoing Silence), won numerous awards and lived a life worthy of the liberation war hero status awarded to him on his passing by his nation. But the greatness of the man he was for me is not defined by this accolade – however great. The true greatness of my father is defined by the legacy he left for us, his children, our children… our children’s children who hopefully will get a glimpse of the man he was in the stories we’ll tell and the memories we’ll share. I hope those of us who were blessed enough to experience the beauty of this man are in some small way able to capture some of his magic for the ones to come. His passion, the sincerity and infectiousness of his laugh, his simplicity, the hilarity of his drunken escapades, his penchant to ‘story tell’ even the most uneventful of events, the passion with which he fought and stood up for what he believed in, his love…If nothing else –his love.
This editor’s note is my love letter to my dad – an ode to the greatest love of my life. Rest easy Museyamwa – Baba vaTawanda, Eriza, Josie, Tinashe na Letty. Sekuru va Jermaine, Vongai, Tawana, Ruva na Kunashe. Hero to your children, your grandchildren and to all who knew you. I love you just as fiercely and as gently as I know you loved us. You were my first love – loved you from the moment my heart learnt and mastered the art of love. And you were worth every second and every breadth of that love! May you find peace in God’s arms. May the testament of the father you were to your children hold strong against your shortcomings in your transition to your heavenly abode. Zororai murugare Mhofu.