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Denny Mashengele left a 'trail of friendship'

12 Nov 2019 at 07:17hrs | Views
Master of ceremonies

Church leaders

Family members and all present

I am honoured to be one of the people chosen to speak for the friends of Denny Mashengele.

Harold Ndlovu who spoke just before me told you that he stood as a parent during the wedding of Denny and Sybil Mashengele (nee Mkhwananzi) in the 1970s. It is interesting that Harold Ndlovu did the same when Mildred and I got married in the same period.

In speaking for the friends of Denny Mashengele I am struck by the fact that I have known him since we were young people, actually from when my parents bought a house in Pelandaba Township in 1958 and we started living in Bulawayo. Therefore in speaking for the friends of Denny (Dan), I am speaking for his playmates, fellow students at primary school, colleagues in sports, friends in secondary school, friends and professional colleagues in England, and political associates in the liberation movement and beyond. This is a long span of life and can only be touched upon briefly in a ceremony like this one.

One thing I have to highlight is that Denny had a consistent characteristic, namely that he managed to smile in all manner of activities and crises.  I therefore wish to emphasize that you should remember the expression that Denny "left behind a trail of friendship". As far as I can recall, nothing could erase his smile and friendly exchange of views, even in the course of intense ideological discourse. Here today we have a childhood playmate, Sam Moyo, who later befriended Denny's older brother, Livingston Mhambi Mshengele. True to form Denny kept such friends even in later life in England two decades later. I know of a few others who would have liked to be here today if they had received the news about Denny in time.

Denny was one of the few young people who had a bicycle in Pelandaba. Most of us learnt to ride using old people's bikes but Denney and a friend called Bee had their own bikes, probably one got bought a bike when the close friend started owning one and I don't know which one was first! What I can say about this combination is that they were very popular.
I never attended the same class with Denny because as a child of educated parents he went to school early and was ahead (also partly because he was slightly older). Instead I was in the same primary school classes with his younger sister Patricia who tended to be among the youngest in our class in Induba Primary (Government) School in Pelandaba. During my last year at primary school Denny Mashengele's father, Henry Boli Mashengele, became my carpentry teacher because he had moved over from Mtshede Primary School, Njube Township. I am recounting this because H. B. Mashengele was a renowned carpentry teacher and an exceptional leader of Boy Scouts (of which I was one) and he passed on this love of the voluntary movement to Denny and his siblings. I suspect that Denny's regard for others and his tolerance of difference came from here. The other remarkable thing about the Mashengele children (including Denny) is that they were in varying degrees involved in sports. Denny was an ardent footballer; he and his friends from various schools were in the Bulawayo Wanderers team groomed by Bulawayo City Council. Some became important players in Highlanders Football Club.

The official obituary mentions that Denny attended Empandeni Secondary School (run by the Catholic Church) in Plumtree. Recently I was planning to have a chat with Denny about this because he selected me and a classmate (Affie Ncube) to come and start our secondary school there in 1965. The following year Denny crossed into Botswana and exile under the auspices of the liberation movement ZAPU (the Zimbabwe African People's Union) and later ended up in England. By coincidence from 1971 Denny's older brother Livingstone Mashengele and I were among cadres detained by the Frontline States in Zambia at the end of the Mboroma Conference. Some like Joburg Zwelibanzi Mzilethi may be coming here today. We smuggled some of our documents to Denny because his brother had his England address where he was a librarian.

In England Denny did not shy away from politics although he focussed more on professional life. Dr Kallai Njini who retired after heading Hillside Teachers' College just behind this house on the main road was one of the people he interacted with. Mashengele and his friends campaigned for our release from detention in Zambia and received us when we were sent to England as part of our conditions for release. Denny continued with his steady support for ZAPU and in recent years was among members of the party's Council of Elders, of whom we have Elder Percy Bhebhe in this audience.

In conclusion, remember the expression that over many decades and up to the end, Denny Mashengele left a "trail of friendship". This is not because he shied away from engagement but because he managed to reduce acrimony in the middle of any controversy.

May He Rest in Peace

Source - Strike Mkandla
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