BY VIMBAI MAJAHA
Zimbabwe woke up to the sad news that Roman Catholic Church priest, novelist and a composer Father Emmanuel Ribeiro had passed on.
The iconic Zimbabwean who played a very significant role in the liberation of Zimbabwe from colonial rule died at St Anne’s hospital this morning.
Born in 1935 in Chivhu, the cleric dedicated his life to the freedom of the people of Zimbabwe.
Father Ribeiro attended Kutama Mission, Gokomere and Gweru Teachers College, he further studied theology at Chishawasha before enrolling for a Master’s degree Bloomington College of Music in USA.
Father Ribeiro was part of the committee which designed the Zimbabwean flag.
After his ordination, he worked as an assistant chaplain-general of Prisons at the time when President Emmerson Mnangagwa was in prison for bombing a Rhodesian locomotive at Fort Victoria railway station together with Matthew Malowa.
Ribeiro facilitated Mnangagwa’s removal from death row.
He masterminded Robert Mugabe and Edgar Tekere‘s great escape to Mozambique.
In 2019, he was part of a group of religious leaders under the banner of National Elders forum that called for the removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
Father Ribeiro was elected as the first chairman of the Shona and Ndebele Writers Association. He authored three novels Muchadura, Tonderai and Ndakaitei. His first two novels won prizes. He composed over 17 Roman Catholic Songs.
In imprinting his legacy he was vice president Constantino Chiwenga’s spiritual mentor for three years while they were studying at an Indian University.
Zimbabwe Council of Churches secretary general Kenneth Mtata, said the Christian community had been left in mourning following the death of father Rebeiro.
“We are shocked to learn of the passing away of the Catholic Priest Father Emmanuel Ribeiro, an ecumenist at heart, a public theologian, a church musician par excellence. We spent time together recently where he was generous to give me some valuable insights into our national history,” Mtata said.