HeeHoo and I drove to Chimanimani for the memorial service for Roy and Heather Bennet, held on the Village Green on Saturday 10 February 2018. There had been a memorial service at The Wild Geese Lodge in Harare the day before and the two Bennet children - Casey and Charles, arrived weary and drained for the service in the Chimanimani Constituency where Roy had found his calling.
The Village of Chimanimani was green, verdant and lush. Rain was forecast and the clouds hung heavy over the mountains. The Village Green had been spruced up, rows of chairs were arranged in front of a makeshift alter where a giant portrait of Roy and Heather stood, steeped in the mystic rays from the watery sun.
The Villagers were there in their hundreds to pay their respects to 'Pachedu'.
A beast had been slaughtered for a feast after the service, and great pots of maize meal were cooking on log fires around the perimeter. The Chimanimani Hotel had cooked giant cauldrons of meat and cabbage and although the atmosphere was courteous and sombre, Chimanimani was always ready to party.
Many friends had gathered from Johannesburg, Harare, Mutare and Chipinge and the eulogies and prayers were deep and meaningful. So great was the love of this couple by so many people that Roy had been likened to the 'Mandela' of Zimbabwe.
White necked ravens circled overhead as people spoke of those halcyon days of Zimbabwe where fear was paramount and time spent in jail was almost a badge of honour.
Roy's three month old grandson, also named Roy, slept peacefully to the songs and prayers, under the cool clouds blowing by.
Somehow today was different, black and white mingled unpretentiously, there was no fear, the speakers spoke openly of the atrocities perpetrated for so many years in so many of Zimbabwe provinces. The citizens of Chimanimani had suffered more than most towns in Zimbabwe and peace needed to be made in many hearts.
That sad and poignant morning, somehow Roy Bennet managed, in death, as he had in life, to sooth his laboured constituents and to coerce them towards the promise of a better life that we all hoped for in a New Zimbabwe.