That was Edwin Dube, my friend for many years and former colleague at the Chronicle, who died in a car crash on Monday night — the latest victim of the death traps our local roads, which have claimed so many lives, have become.
The outpouring of grief — from those who knew him personally and through his work — is fitting tribute to a life fruitfully lived! He will always be missed and never forgotten by many of us.
Just a few hours after his life was cut short, those who knew him from all corners of the globe took to social networking sites to express their grief and find communion with other Zimbabweans who felt his warmth and kindness.
So many colleagues have poured out their emotions, but perhaps the most fitting epitaph for Edwin would be a short and simple message left on Facebook by local journalist Gift Phiri.
“Edwin was a fantastic guy,” Phiri said. “He loved everyone. He slaughtered a beast for journalists attending a Misa workshop recently free of charge. His generosity was unparalleled. Go well brother.”
An undeniable weakness of most journalists is their obvious lack of entrepreneurial ambition, a permanent lack of desire to see beyond their monthly pay cheque. Edwin used every opportunity to discourage this and in that regard led by example.
By the time of his death, he owned a thriving bottle store in Bulawayo as well as the popular Drive Inn Leisure Centre – venue of some of the most memorable music concerts held in the city in recent years. He was involved in cattle ranching, and had his own house and car, among other properties.
My nightmare began on Tuesday morning when I got a shocking short email from an old colleague at the Chronicle, Limukani Ncube, which said: “Edwin Dube has died.”
You want to think it’s a sick joke but you know it isn’t, and your most immediate reaction is: “Oh My God, why?”
A socialite and dedicated journalist, it was hard not to like Edwin. “Chubby”, as we called him because he was stout, died a few months after being appointed Deputy Editor of the country’s leading business weekly, the Zimbabwe Independent. While at the Chronicle, he was continually frustrated by the limitations of state-controlled journalism as he always wanted to freely express his mind.
Edwin will forever be remembered as an ambitious journalist who from his early years as a young reporter fresh from journalism school, fixed his eyes on the horizon, looked forward, and did not falter.
And as editor of the Trends magazine, a sister publication to the Chronicle, he achieved 80 000 monthly sales, a feat which many editors can only dream of.
But in the end he left the Chronicle as the shackles of state-control tightened and when he needed a new challenge.
When I asked him recently how he was coping in Harare, before he relocated his family, he complained of “too much travelling up and down” but he reiterated that he was happy at the Independent as “promotion was done on merit, not on patronage”.
I knew Edwin’s mother very well, and regarded her as my mother also. When Edwin was in the United Kingdom, after receiving a Chevening Scholarship to read for an MA degree at Cardiff University, Wales, I found myself playing Edwin’s role in his family.
While studying fulltime in Wales, he also secured himself a full-time job, and helped his mother back in Bulawayo to set up a financial company in his name.
The financial company was the stepping stone, and Edwin never stopped chasing the dream of financial independence. Business was his passion, but journalism was his life.
It would be selfish for me to take all the time and space remembering Edwin without giving others a chance:
Dr Clayton Peel, former assistant editor of the Chronicle, now an academic at Oxford, was part of the decision to employ both myself and Edwin. He said: “Dube was a resilient and dependable journalist, an asset to any newspaper. He raised the bar on the news desk at the Chronicle and I considered him best suited for the most challenging assignments because of his grasp of the issues, his succinct style of writing, and his dogged yet even-tempered demeanour when facing resistance.
“He achieved much, and still had much to achieve, and I deeply regret his passing as premature. It has robbed us of his talents, his personality, his wit, and most important of all because this is an area of need in our country today, his leadership. The journalism fraternity, and Zimbabwe as a whole, is poorer today without Edwin Dube.”
Clemence Marijeni, the former Chronicle sports editor now at Birmingham University studying law, said: “I am so saddened. Imagine, Edwin organised my bachelor’s party when I got married last month in Bulawayo on the eve of my wedding. Despite telling them that I would not be able to attend it, they continued with the bachelor’s party late into the night.
“We were in the Mass Communication class of 1993-1995 together. Edwin distinguished himself as an intelligent student and he emerged as one of the top students of our class. He was one of a few students who decided to study journalism not because they had failed to go to university but because that is what he seemed to have been ordained to do.
“He did achieve the A level grades to go to university but instead chose to study journalism at Harare Polytechnic. This explains why even in later life he remained a journalist despite running a successful business venture.
“He was a fearless and outspoken student with a sense of humour. He was very opinionated and always stood his ground on issues.”
Edwin will be buried today at West Park Cemetery, Bulawayo. Go well “Tycoon Chubby!”
Admore Tshuma is a former Chronicle journalist who is studying for a doctoral degree in transitional justice in the UK.
By Admore Tshuma