Tribute to the late Peter Banga

By Petros Masakara

I had known the late Peter Banga who died on Friday morning as a friend, workmate  and neighbour. For more than 30 years, we had mutual respect for one another and we did not call each other using first names or even surnames. We used our totems. I called him Mauruka and he called me Wafawanaka. Even when we were discussing business, we used our totems. It was only when it was absolutely.necessary that we used our surnames: Mr Banga; Mr Masakara.

But the use of totems was ‘contagious’. Several people, especially at Harare Polytechnic also called us using our totems.I worked with Banga at ZBC for several years. Many will remember him with a sense of nostalgia, gratitude and appreciation . His was a radio voice…that unmistakable voice which presented Newsreel and Newsbeat on Radios One and Three. His workmates there included Eishila Maravanyika, Maria Pangidzwa and Carol Gombakomba.

On ZBC-TV Banga occasionally joined the Current Affairs panel that presented the programme Insight.Banga was an embodiment of love and kindness. He had a tone of friendship and a warm personal approach. But he spoke openly against  the use of abusive and obscene language. I remember him saying to me.the.other day:”Wafawanaka even if people are not on air, they should avoid offensive language.”Although he criticised  those who spoke and behaved recklessly, Banga also knew that praise was a spiritual vitamin and so he praised you if he felt you deserved it.

After ZBC, Banga became a journalism lecturer at Harare Polytechnic. He trained journalists, and indeed, training commanded a warm place in his heart. He was later appointed Head of the Division of Mass Communication.

On behalf of the.principal, Banga on many occasions invited me to be an external assessor for journalism exams at Harare Polytechnic.My observation was that Banga thoroughly marked the tests and exams of his students and he made very useful comments to guide the students. He emphasized that students’ essays should.not be mere intellectual gymnastics: they should be meaningful and pregnant with substance.

When I was training journalists at CCOSA, Banga asked us to meet regularly so that we could compare notes. Here was who believed in collaborative effort.He had brilliant ideas on how journalists should have a fair share of.the national cake. This sociable man liked people; he enjoyed talking to people.

At Harare Polytechnic, Banga befriended virtually everyone – from the groundsman to the principal. They called him Uncle. That was because he addressed all men as “uncle”. He became very popular.Banga represented people with.disabilities on many occasions. He was a very patient man who took time to listen to their concerns and where possible, he would take up the raised issues with the.powers that be. He himself believed and taught that disability does not mean inability.

Banga thought well beyond tribal and racial lines. During discusions he would give examples of what was happening in other countries.

Not surprisingly, he married a wife from Tanzania. Initially, mai vaTatenda found it difficult to communicate in Shona. Since we were neighbours and friends, Banga asked my wife to help his wife. Banga’s untimely death has plunged the media industry and Harare Polytechnic into mourning.

The media industry is poorer without him. It has lost a dedicated and honest worker.And to Peter Banga I say people meet to part, but they also part to meet.

Thank you for teaching society impeccable manners. Thank you for your meaningful contribution in the media industry.

Go well Mauruka! Go well “Uncle”! Go well friend!

Petros Masakara is the late Peter Banga’s former workmate at Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation(ZBC),a fellow broadcasting trainer and neighbour