President Mnangagwa yesterday said he was humbled by the outpouring of love the First Family received when hundreds of people turned up in Helensvale, Harare, for the memorial service of his grandson Yasha Mafidi Mnangagwa (5), who died of respiratory complications in October last year.
Yasha was the son of Mr Sean Tafadzwa Mnangagwa and his wife Varaidzo.
The President, who was flanked by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, his children, relatives and friends, said he thought the memorial service would be a low-key family event.
His Excellency recounted the colourful moments he had with his grandson, whom he said was closer to his grandmother, the First Lady.
Quoting Luke 18 verse 16 from the Bible, which says “let the little ones come to me and do not hinder them for the Kingdom of God is theirs”, President Mnangagwa said: “Indeed, that sums up why we are gathered here in recognition of this living word of God. Kids at this age have no sin and the Lord above says let them come to me. Unfortunately, we, grandparents and parents, sometimes do not agree with the word of God. We would want it the other way, but we have no choice. We would want to see our children grow up and fulfil their wishes and their talents in life, but, of course, as the word of God says he gives and he takes, and we have no authority over that.”
He said ultimately God has the final say.
“It is in the hands of the Lord above. I thank you all for this day that we have come together. To Tafadzwa (Sean), his wife, relatives and the entire family, I say this did not start with you; it is part and parcel of life. It is also the law of God that we all have to accept. Today it is in the Mnangagwa family, tomorrow it is elsewhere, but we must accept that God has done as he wishes. These young children, the friends he played with may not understand. They still ask as to where their colleague went.
However, as time passes, I think they will accept that he went to God, and I believe my daughters-in-law – their mothers – try to teach them so.”
President Mnangagwa, who is currently on his annual leave, revealed that his grandson had deep affection for the First Lady.
“Yasha loved his grandmother more than me. Each time he would come home, he would go to his grandmother first, even when we were seated together the two of us. I felt jealous, but I said when he grows up, he will know where the power lies. All these jokes are now gone. That is how we enjoyed life with him around.”
Yasha’s uncle, Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa (Jnr), recounted how, despite being young, Yasha was a dominant character at home.
“We are gathered here today in loving memory of Yasha Mafidi Mnangagwa. Yasha to us had many names. I used to call him Fidi, Mafidi, General, Commander. He had so many names. He had such a beautiful, loving spirit. Each time he would visit his grandfather’s place with his brothers and sisters, you would see them playing together. Fidi would command how things would be going and who is playing with what and what time we start and what time we finish, and who is going to eat first and who is going to eat last,” he said.
“At such a young age, he had a very brotherly spirit. We used to watch him playing well with his peers. Indeed, it’s a very sad moment for the family, for all of us. His passing left a huge hole in our hearts. But through scripture and through prayers from our pastors here, and all your prayers and the small memories we have of him, I feel, sooner or later, the hole will slowly fill up.
To my Yasha, I want to say you are not alone; we are all here for you. There was a lot of sadness in this house following his death, but today I see smiles because you have all come to comfort us. I would like to thank everybody for your prayers. Let us keep the memories and love.”
Ms Josephine Mavura, sister to Yasha’s mother, also shared memories of her nephew.
“When I was asked to speak today I wasn’t too sure what I was going to say so that everyone here would understand what Mafidi meant to us as a family. I felt the best way to do this would be by thanking him. Mafi, my son, I would like to thank you for teaching us how to be selfless, to be kind, how to be patient, how to laugh, how to sing and dance, how to play, to be happy, how to love unconditionally – the list is endless. And even at the moment of your untimely departure, you taught us how to be strong. Thank you, my son, for allowing us to experience love in its purest form. The void that Mafi left is insurmountable and I think this message sums it all up,” she said.
Miss Nix Grant, the headmistress of Yasha’s school, Silver Linings, gave the First Family some words of comfort.
“On behalf of the school, we would like to extend our deepest condolences and comfort to the Mnangagwa family. I think we can all agree that the loss of a loved one is incredibly difficult, even more so when the life lost is a precious young man. I feel privileged to have met Yasha. He filled our school with an air of peace and a joy born from a heart of purity. I can still see him today, walking into school in the morning with a bright smile and a wave for every teacher. His smile permanently etched on my heart and I am so thankful to have such a precious memory,” she said.
“While we mourn Yasha’s loss, I am also reminded to seek comfort in God’s presence and to trust that His will is divine and is always good. I pray that Yasha is rejoicing in Heaven, singing and dancing just as he did here. Thank you for all you taught us, Yasha. You were a gift to us all.”
Yasha’s teacher at Silver Linings, Ms Natasha Herbst, also shared the same sentiments.
“Yasha was a sweet and loving little boy, and had a way of leaving a lasting impression on anyone he met, either because of his charming smile or his calm demeanour. We called him a gentle giant in our class. I would like to mention three things that stood out about Yasha,” said Ms Herbst.
“Firstly, Yasha was loving and caring, always showing concern for his fellow students and teachers. He hated seeing anyone cry and was always there to try and comfort them. He had such great compassion and I will never forget the day when he saw a teacher get teary-eyed and had to leave the classroom.
Yasha kept asking about her and if she was okay, up until the time he went home. This really touched me and showed his compassionate character. For a child of that age to have such compassion was something beyond me. Secondly, Yasha was a very cheerful child. He filled our classroom with giggles and was always singing and asking for music to be played, which he would gladly get up and dance to. He also had a great sense of humour and his laugh would brighten our day.
He taught us that no matter what happens, you just need to learn to put on some music and sing and dance until your heart is content.
Lastly, Yasha worked hard when he put his mind to something. Once he decided he wanted to do something and conquer it, he put every effort into it and did his best to achieve it. He had made such wonderful progress all round and was set to win the prize for our junior horse rider of the year for 2022.
“Although Yasha is not with us physically anymore, the memories and moments we shared of this sweet boy will always remain in our hearts and minds. Both Martha (a fellow teacher) and I are privileged to have been able to teach him and will forever be grateful that we were able to interact with such a fine young man. The hole left in our hearts will never be filled but the hope that we will be able to meet again one day gives us comfort.”
The sermon at the memorial service was delivered by Chaplain Christine Phiri, who read from 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 verse13, which reads: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
The chaplain shared the experience she went through when she was widowed at the age of 21.
“I met this temptation at 21 but there is God high above who keeps his people. Losing a loved one, a child or a relative is not as a result of a curse.
Do not keep asking yourself who it may be who wants to make us extinct – that is done by those who do not know the word of God. God is the giver and taker of life.
Let’s be grateful that when God comes to take his holy ones, we will be prepared,” she said as she sang the chorus “Apo Jesu anouya”.
Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Martin Rushwaya and senior Government officials attended the service.
Youthful musical outfit Boys of Thunder provided entertainment through song and dance.
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