Multitudes of mourners braved Saturday morning’s cold weather freeze and thronged the village of Marapong in the Tutume sub-district to pay their last respects to a celebrated author and poet, Albert Gombalume Tamuntshu Keetile Malikongwa.
His burial was attended by, among others, area MP Fidelis Molao, Nkange legislator Edwin Batshu, former Chief Justice Julian Nganunu, Customary Court of Appeal Dikgosi Phineas Makepe and Mothibe Linchwe.
Malikongwa’s son, Richard, described the burial as the time to celebrate the life of his dad who embodied a sense of duty and modesty, coupled with the monumental contribution to Ikalanga culture, adding that his father persevered in writing in a society that is averse to reading.
Richard jokingly said they (Malikongwa’s children) were at times embarrassed when their father went about selling his books even at funerals.
He explained that his father, a tough disciplinarian, valued education highly and at the time of his death kept on asking for the script of the book he was writing of Bakalanga Baka Nswazwi, which is still to be published.
Bazibi Bale told the more than 2000 mourners that Malikongwa was a founding member of the Society for the Promotion Ikalanga Language (SPIL). He said the deceased had worked tirelessly for this country in various capacities, adding that he taught in the then Rhodesia along the likes of the late cabinet minister Washington Meswele.
“He is not dead. He is sleeping because his writings are here with us,” said Bale, while Thomas Chilambampani echoed the same sentiments saying Malikongwa was a great writer of Ikalanga literature and folklore in his many published books and poems dating as far back as 1951 when he authored Denje buya.
“I do not know who will sell his books now that he is dead,” said Chilambampani while urging Malikongwa’s children to ensure that the book he was writing at the time of his death gets published.
Makepe, who was two classes behind Malikongwa at college, said he enjoyed working with the deceased who insisted that their judgments be written down and believed on delivering water tight judgments which could not be overturned on appeal.
He said Malikongwa was an advocate for the underprivileged and was passionate about dispensing justice as a member of the Customary Court of Appeal.
Christopher Maunge, who was Malikongwa’s classmate, said the deceased was the best student of English in their class. He described him as a very strict and honest person who was not shaken from his convictions.
Another speaker, Mbako Mongwa, said Malikongwa played an influential role in the development of Marapong Village, which culminated with the building of a brigade in the village describing him as a “paragon of virtue”.
Retired Permanent Secretary, Mathias Chakalisa, said Malikongwa had been sick for a very long time before he finally succumbed and that at the time of his death Malikongwa had intended to thank his children for taking care of him while he was sick but that could not be because he died while preparations were being mooted.
Malikongwa’s first born, Shathy, said his father was diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. His health was also affected by a freak car accident and, due to advanced age, his hearing and sight became impaired before his death.
Shathy described his father as a very brave man who withstood failing health.