By Gaby Ndongo (6 mins read)
During the week that you were hospitalised due to an accident on route to play football, I was worried for a couple of days and could not identify the trigger of this discomfort. It led me to inquire of your whereabouts from one of your house mates because you and Kelvin could not be reached.
He told me that you were in hospital since the previous Sunday; his words made me feel weak for several hours. Days later, when I phoned mother, she said you were rapidly recovering. The statement simply made me happy and calm. A calm that I have not encountered for a while.
When I heard the paralysing news of your passing after a few days, I felt consecutive waves of emotions: an extreme shock, followed by a feeling of numbness, sadness, exhaustion and then emptiness. Your passing triggered the realities of life being temporary and unpredictable. My mind remained static as it knew that the pace of its days is bound to change, considering that you were a close friend, brother, advisor, fellow writer, and editor.
Our relationship was founded upon mutual respect, logic and courtesy. I often referred to you as a black Briton due to your love for tea and eloquent speech. For the duration of our friendship since 2017, we never fought but engaged in some form of verbal argumentative essays about current affairs, financial matters, family issues and religious topics, among others. This is mainly because our moral compasses were aligned to a greater extend. We shared the need to be blunt, critical, fair, and considerate while attempting to minimise harm.
In the spirit of being blunt, one cannot be oblivious of your charm. I had to frequently inform some young women about our friendship when they referred to you as “cute” and “handsome”. A growing number of them sort the chance to be in your circle but you only allowed a selected few.
On the other hand, our routines were simple: the host needed to provide food and drinks, the guest had to be provocative, one loaned the other funds when applicable, and each ensured that he checked up on the other and in the process, asked about the wellbeing of the nuclear family members. There was a sense of loyalty, which was never described but expressed.
Through you, I saw that a man is a male figure who is aware of his intentions, emotions, thoughts, and actions. One who embraces the need to be vulnerable to those close to him and exercise care as much as possible. With these lessons in mind, it is evident that you will always be a part of my days and of those in my entourage.
When you joined The Open Journal in early-2017, you immediately assumed the strategic position of a sports editor, helping us to strengthen the bond within the team of writers and editors.
One of your sport writers, Sinenhlanhla Ngweya, said: “It was my first sport news story for The Open Journal. A few days later, Kupa sat me down with a newspaper and read a story with me. He said, ‘You need to enjoy writing it so that the reader enjoys reading it. Add flavour!’ You always managed to calm us down after a harsh confrontation between Magnificent and Gaby and you were good at it!”
Buyeleni Sibanyoni, another sport writer, recalled: “Kupa was so gentle and had patience with every story idea that I had. He would guide me like his child, giving me options on what to do and how to do it. I remember the first story I wrote for The Open Journal, I was clueless as I hadn’t written a professional story before and he gave me constructive feedback while making jokes here and there, trying not to make me feel bad.”
“Writing about him in the past tense feels weird to me,” said Teboho Fumbeza, an acquittance and former classmate. “We got to produce Breaking Boundaries magazine together as a team in 2019 for our Journalism Honours class, and in that process, we didn’t always agree on things, but you always regrouped us to get the work done.
“I remember how excited you were when one of the tracks you produced played on Metro FM. I felt so happy and proud of you. The last conversation we had in person was on 17 April 2021 when we hosted the Soweto Writers’ Convention. You mentioned how important it is to keep supporting each other’s hustles. That was the last time I saw you, the last time I hugged you and took a picture with you.”
Ntozanele Libimbi, who is also an acquittance and former classmate, explained: “You were a great leader, headstrong, focused, dedicated and low key a perfectionist. You had this energy that lit up a room and you managed to steal our hearts with everything you did. Thank you for the friendship, the good food, the amazing music that you produced and most of all, thank you for being that one person who forced me to level up.
“I’m so sad that you left us before you won producer of the year, before you launched records, before you relaunched Boundaries. Your physical form may have left this world but your name, Kupakwashe Kenneth Kambasha, will forever live on.”
“My friend, your passing hurts because it’s untimely and quite personal,” said Laurianne Lingbondo, a former classmate. “All we left with are your memories. The fondest of those memories is when I, Lisa and Gaby visited you a day before most of our third-year exams. For some reason, there was never water, and we had to bath with 2L bottles of water each to tackle what you called ‘the most important parts’.
“I always found these conversations the most hilarious, you had a great sense of humour. You had a great sense of style as well, always neat and presentable. Thank you for welcoming me into your home and heart, Kupa.”
Chinwe NwoLisa, a friend, recalled: “Your beautiful soul was a force to be reckoned with and when you loved, you loved wholly. Your boyish charm, full of life, laughter and warm heart will remain in my heart as that guiding compass that reminds me of how true friends should be. In you, Heavens gained an angel at our loss and this loss is felt deeply. Ride on Kupa, fly high, keep the angels happy and smiling like only you can. Remember you were loved and appreciated.”
Magnificent, a close friend, said, “Paralysing this as it may be, remember that what matters the most is not the duration of living in time, but the depth of life. Therefore, neither fire nor wind, or death can erase your good deeds.
“As you always texted and said: ‘Mr Mag, I was just checking up on you. I’m also doing well man. When you come back in Joburg we should link up, and catch up with the boys,’ rest assured that we have so much catching up to do on the other side. And when I was on the brink of losing my life out of an ailment for more than a half year, you always checked up on me, saying friends look after each other – remember, we still got your back. Rest easy my soldier.” TOJ
Writing by Gaby Ndongo. Editing by Magnificent Mndebele. Feature image supplied by family.