Thousands of Zimbabweans yesterday thronged the National Heroes Acre to bid farewell to national hero, Retired Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai who died in a car accident early last week. Cde Karakadzai, whose Chimurenga name was Hip Level, was the National Railways of Zimbabwe general manager.
He died last Tuesday in a car crash along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway.Burial proceedings started early in the morning with scores of people lining the streets of Mbare to catch a glimpse of the hearse carrying Cde Karakadzai’s body on its way to Stodart Hall for body viewing.
Mbare Chimurenga Choir belted out revolutionary songs at the hall as several dignitaries arrived for body viewing.
President Mugabe, who was accompanied by First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, led the dignitaries, service chiefs and close relatives in body viewing before the body was taken to its final resting place.
Among the dignitaries were Vice President Joice Mujuru and several Zanu-PF Politburo and central committee members.
At the national shrine, youths clad in Zanu-PF regalia and NRZ employees came in their numbers and joined various church choirs that sang and danced to celebrate the life of the freedom fighter.
Some of the youths waved placards with messages that praised Cde Karakadzai.
Some of the banners read: “Go well trainer of trainers”, “A highly disciplined officer”, “Teacher of political commissars”, and “51/49 is the only sum we know”.
Addressing mourners, President Mugabe said Cde Karakadzai died at a moment when Zanu-PF was in a high mood following its resounding victory in the July 31 harmonised elections, dampening the celebratory mood.
“But, as preparations were underway for the inauguration ceremony of the President elect, tragedy befell the nation,” he said. “Retired Air Commodore Mike Tichafa Karakadzai, known by his Chimurenga name as Hip Level, was killed in a horrific car crash on Tuesday night while on his way to Bulawayo. We were shell-shocked by the said news of his untimely death and wondered what was the meaning of it all.
“Why, why, why, we repeatedly asked ourselves, had Cde Karakadzai departed from us in that cruel fashion, without so much as giving us the slightest hint and the timing of it all when the nation and the whole world were focused on our inauguration of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe?”
President Mugabe said there was deeper agony when tragedy struck again with the death of Cde Enos Nkala and Cde Kumbirai Kangai.
“What a national tragedy this has been, all happening in the course of one week, in the course of one month, August, the month of our National Heroes,” he said. “The week gone by, therefore, has been a real sad one, indeed a week of national mourning. The nation is all the poorer without these gallant sons of the soil.”
Zimbabwe National Army Chief of Staff, Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, who once led the NRZ board and worked with Cde Karakadzai, described him as a “courageous patriot.”
“We worked together from 2005 at the height of the economic sanctions, at a time the NRZ ship was sinking,” Maj-Gen Nyikayaramba said.
“Workers had gone for months without being paid, the medical and pension fund were not paid and he accepted to move in to turn around the fortunes of the parastatal. This shows how courageous he was because such men are ideal when fundamental decisions are needed.”
Maj-General Nyikayaramba said Cde Karakadzai helped in introducing a number of strategies to generate revenue for NRZ.
Cde Karakadzai’s son, Tendai who spoke at the national shrine on behalf of the family, said his father was a pillar of unity in the family.
“He was one man who unified us as he always wanted happiness in the family,” he said.
Norton national assembly member elect Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa (Zanu-PF), who knew Cde Karakadzai since the time of the liberation struggle, said the late freedom fighter was “an exceptionally gifted strategist.”
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