A colleague called me on a Sunday morning when I was preparing for my family mini church service at home on the supposedly last day of the COVID-19 induced national lockdown.
The information transmitted on the other end of the phone was not the very best to consume.
“Mate, I’m told Gift (Phiri) is no more.”
That was the message my colleague delivered. I was gutted.
On this day, it is with great sorrow that you are all but the subject of this story as the journalism fraternity is failing to accept your sudden departure to dance with the angels.
On any good day you would have been behind the laptop, your fingers tapping in unison, listening to the sound of your keyboard doing what you all but lived for and did to the best of your ability until you breathed your last.
I vividly remember the days you would drop me a line or two as a dear brother in arms and advised on follow ups of some stories. Not that I would have asked for your opinion, but because you felt it in your heart to nurture and get the best out of me and I want to believe this is what you did to every budding journalist.
Sleep well my brother and like William Shakespeare’s Cassius in Julius Caesar says… “My life has run his compass,” indeed yours did justice and until the end you stood firm on your beliefs and principles.
I remember when I took a risky assignment on unchartered territory in Chiadzwa diamond minefields, you gave me the courage and strength I needed to proceed.
You gave me key contacts that were to later help me come up with a complete investigative piece on Chiadzwa.
You were to do the same when I covered the Dema diesel plant station.
Such was the man you were, never stingy with information and always willing to share some wise tips tapped from your well of wisdom.
Experience is the best teacher and indeed you used your wealth of experience in our beloved profession to impart information unto others.
If I am to scroll the emails we exchanged, I will forever cherish the wisdom stored in that hardrive.
Simplicity is the way you survived-you could be talking to the President this minute and to a street beggar on the next, without putting an effort.
I often remember some youngsters who joined me in the newsroom and how they always referred to you as a music aficionado.
Though we had different tastes in music, your passion for reggae music was an open secret!
Eulogies are flowing from all walks of life and that is true testimony of how you connected well to people across the social strata.
Today, I choose to celebrate your life, you played your part on this earth and may you sleep well, we were soldiers in the same struggle to inform citizens with accurate, factual and reliable information.
So long my brother…. Sleep well!