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A tribute to Henrietta Ndebele

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By Guthrie Munyuki

WHEN the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, now Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), commanded respect, it was almost every girl's wish to be either a television presenter or news anchor.

Yes, no one would deride girls for having such dreams.

ZBC then had the creme de la creme of both presenters and news readers.

Among the outstanding ones were Dorcas Chibanda, Noreen Welch and the late Tsitsi Vera.

On radio, you had unrivalled news readers such as Musi Khumalo, who gave their best as a way of showing excellence in their jobs.

Such exploits in the world of broadcasting and the desire to go one rung further than these television and radio journalists of yesteryear, were the driving force behind the late Henrietta Ndebele.

The death of the feisty late print journalist, broadcaster and later public relations practitioner, has robbed Zimbabwe of one of the few remaining dedicated television journalists.

Ndebele, who died aged 28 in her home city, Bulawayo, Thursday morning, was full of life.

It is ironic that she died in Bulawayo, the city that gave her hope in the jungle called journalism.

The same city, the City of Kings and Queens, witnessed its product at the top of the world during international musical concerts, corporate events and fashion shows where she was a compere.

Ndebele, in all these events, exuded self belief and for many young girls in Bulawayo and some parts of Matabeleland, she was the reason to go on.
She was an icon who touched their lives and at the same time reflected the national qualities in her work.

Perhaps the name Ndebele was the only way people realized she was from Matabeleland.

Her sweet voice on This Morning, broadcast between 06:00hrs and 08:00hrs Monday to Friday, on ZTV, was the reason why admirers saw the good things in broadcasting despite shoddy management and shambolic state of affairs at the national broadcaster.

Here was a bubbly, energetic and proud journalist who wooed viewers to her programmes through an infectious smile.

The smile was the arsenal! It hid all the agony that she had to endure to keep professionalism evident at ZBH.

During This Morning and Sunday Edition, Ndebele tried hard to keep the viewers interested.

But what remain are memories of a chubby journalist who found her way into journalism at the Harare Polytechnic in 1998.

Although she reminded colleagues of her asthmatic problems, her body and smile defied the underlying pain that often gripped her, especially during the rain reason and winter.

It is sad that her life has been cut short at time when she was revelling in a profession that many find to be no longer respectable.

Death has indeed brought pain not only to Ndebele family, but to every person who knew her and the struggle for excellence she went through to be a topnotch broadcaster.

True, death has struck like a thief that comes in the night when we are all relaxed.

Gone is the voice and the true character of an original broadcaster who brought pride and a smile to a group of journalists my age.

Indeed you are lonely when you are dead! Farewell thee, Henrietta! You played your part and died with a true pride of a unique journalist.

You will be sorely missed by many.

May your spirit remain with Zvikomborero, Charity, Sarudzai, Nyaradzo, Sipho, Prisca and all of us in the journalism fraternity!

Guthrie Munyuki is a Zimbabwean journalist and writes from London. He can be contacted at:


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