Goodbye, Nondu

2019-06-30 11:55
Nondumiso Zakwe

Nondumiso Zakwe

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Two weeks ago we lost a wonderful colleague.

Our darling, talented, soccer mad sports reporter Nondumiso Zakwe succumbed to an aggressive form of cancer. She was in her early thirties.

Nondu’s diagnosis came as a bolt from the blue and as a profound shock, but we really believed that this strong young woman would triumph over this terrible illness.

We were devastated when she died.

Many of us felt her loss like that of a family member. She was, anyway, part of our family at The Witness.

Let me tell you a bit about Nondu. She was well educated. She was well-loved by her family and loved them in return. She was bright and confident. When she spoke, it was with conviction. She was a woman with a strong sense of self. She was what many youngsters aspire to be. She worked hard and took pride in what she produced and had built herself up as a respected sports journalist in the industry, often scooping her opposition.

Speaking at her funeral in Msinga last Saturday, I told the throngs of mourners that journalism is no easy job. We work very hard. It’s not the glamorous life some may think it is. (A while ago someone said to me: “Oh, you journalists have such a nice time with your two and a half hour lunch breaks.” What a joke.)

We often have to deal with things like tragedy, horror and conflict; yes, even sports reporters. So we crave light relief and the easy camaraderie that those who have worked together over a long period, at a place they love and at a job they enjoy, develop instinctively. It’s that interaction and happy banter that helps keeps us sane. Nondu played an integral part in breaking through the seriousness of the newsroom. Her witty conversation often kept the rest of us giggling. She had a no-holds-barred kind of sense of humour with a beautifully expressive face to match. The sound of her laughter was uniquely hers and always infectious.

And, like a true journo, she loved asking questions and had few qualms about doing so. She delved into our lives getting us to speak about stuff we would often not speak to others about. She was frank and forthright.

She was an empathetic woman who oozed style, personality and real soul. She also loved a red lipstick.

While she took her job very seriously, she was always up for a bit of fun with her colleagues. One memory I love thinking about was when in a moment of office frivolity and joie de vivre she was part of a challenge between the younger men and women. They started making claims about who would win a Friday lunchtime office chair race down the corridor between the desks. The guys pooh-poohed her claims that she could triumph and to great hilarity and much cheering from female colleagues, the chair she pushed with steely determination was victorious. Of course it was. That was our Nondu. Determined, fun-loving, multitalented and strong.

Nondu’s beautiful manners, cheeky sense of humour and gorgeous smile made her a gracious and very popular colleague. We couldn’t help but love her.

She suffered through her illness with an admirable dignity and wisdom, protecting us from the pain she went through as much as she could.

There are many tragedies about her death: the fact that her family has lost their beloved “Nduh” the biggest one. The media industry as a whole has also lost a rare talent in a woman whose experience in her craft and her passion for sport was a force to be reckoned with.

Hell, she even got me excited about football, and I found myself supporting Chelsea FC along with the guy in the house. But in her memory, I’m making the switch to Arsenal now and will be cheering the Gunners along. I’ll also be keeping an eye on Maritzburg United. She would have liked that.

Nondu’s death again reinforced that this thing we call life pelts us sometimes with merciless curveballs and they are bowled from where we least expect them to be thrown from. We never know when they’re coming either, do we?

We’ve been through all the raging against her death, the sadness and many hot tears for our loss and that of her family and a future that isn’t hers anymore. It’s been a very sad time for us.

Please readers, remember to get your regular medical tests for this dread disease. If you’ve been putting it off because it’s a schlep, please go soon. Make the appointment. It’s a mammogram, a pap smear, a check with a urologist or your GP or physician or whatever. It’s not a huge deal. Don’t delay.

If you can, please donate blood or bone marrow to help those affected by cancer. Support the NGOs that do such important work in this field.

A special thank you to all the nurses and doctors who treated our dear Nondu at various private hospitals in the city and in Durban. We trust that you really did your best for her.

Nondumiso taught me so much. I’ll always be grateful for that. Those are private lessons I’ll keep close. She was larger than life and for us is much larger than death. Her legacy will be in archived copies of this newspaper, in her young son who she loved so very much and in the memories of moments we cherish of her.

Rest in peace our beautiful daughter, sister and young rising star. We’ll never, ever forget you.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  opinion and analysis

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