HARARE: An unassuming and larger-than-life broadcast journalist who practiced his trade with utmost humility albeit authoritatively.
True to his trade name Big T, Tinashe Rupende was a bigger character who was fond of throwing his humor-laden weight around to lessen the struggles that come with working as a cameraperson for the public broadcaster. He would deliver humor in his trademark lazy booming voice.
Back in Mozambique, Villa Katandika to be specific, on one of our several assignments Big T had earned himself another nickname, Cde Nzounhenda. Big T was a master of sarcasm and caricature and would insist on his support for unpopular views.
In Villa Katandika, we were accompanied by a wartime fighter Cde Nzounhenda who showed unflinching support for Joice Mujuru, then a state Vice President and faction leader for the vanquished Gamatox.
Tinashe had insisted that the Gamatox faction would triumph simply because he was not a fan of the popular view held at that time that the Weevils faction had an upper hand politically. From then I would refer to him as Nzounhenda and we would laugh at our career memories.
We had moved to Chimoio and we played Tom and Jerry with Mozambican Police at drinking holes as we had left our passports (documento) at the hotel. That night Big T pulled a Houdini on us and he was nowhere to be found only to appear in the morning at the hotel where he then locked himself up in his room and slept the whole day.
We almost broke the door knocking trying to wake him up so that we go for a scheduled recording at the Chimoio Shrine. Our knocks on the door were drowned by his heavy snoring that was amplified by the courage from the 2M Lager we had quaffed the previous night. I had to play both a Producer and cameraperson roles that day.
Big T moved to Gweru where he became a Midlands Bureau Cameraperson. We would meet during my broadcast journalism sojourns to the province and we would go down memory lane and laugh our lungs out over some wise waters.
He had become family. My friendship with Big T dated back to our college days in 2004 when we were doing our journalism studies.
The last I saw Big T he was not feeling well. My heart sank on seeing him as he had become a pale shadow of his former self. I did not get a chance to talk to him much as he was rushing for a diary. Little did I know that it was a goodbye.
My condolences to the Rupende family for the loss. May your dear soul rest in eternal peace, Big T. You will remain etched on my mind’s eyes, Cde Nzounhenda.