First Lady pays emotional tribute to veteran actress Stella January

31 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
First Lady pays emotional tribute to veteran actress Stella January Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa consoles Mrs Patricia January, mother to the late Stella January, at the funeral in Mufakose, Harare, on Friday.

The Sunday Mail

. . . highlights importance of cancer screening

Tendai Rupapa

Senior Reporter

FIRST LADY Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa on Friday visited Mufakose for the funeral wake of veteran actress Stella January (55), who succumbed to cancer on Wednesday, where she fought back tears as the deceased’s final moments were being narrated.

President Mnangagwa accorded January a State-assisted funeral.

Just like any other ordinary woman from the community, Amai Mnangagwa caught people by surprise as she participated in the singing.

Herself an arts enthusiast, Dr Mnangagwa worked with January on an educative film titled “Rujeko” a few years ago.

Veteran writer and actor Aaron Chiundura Moyo narrates  to mourners how First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa worked with many artistes, including the late Stella January, in a film she scripted titled “Rujeko”, which focused on teaching the girl-child good morals.

Veteran writer and actor Aaron Chiundura Moyo narrates to mourners how First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa worked with many artistes, including the late Stella January, in a film she scripted titled “Rujeko”, which focused on teaching the girl-child good morals.

The film focuses on the girl-child.

This is not the first time Amai Mnangagwa has visited families of deceased artistes to pay her condolences.

She also visited the Nhira family to mourn the passing away of actress Anne Nhira.

Dr Mnangagwa would also visit the late actor Lazarus Boora, popularly known as Gringo, when he was bed-ridden and assist his family with basic household goods.

Talented comedian Taurai Boora (centre), son of the late actor Lazarus Boora, known as Gringo, joins other actors and actresses in a drama at the funeral of  Stella January in Mufakose

Talented comedian Taurai Boora (centre), son of the late actor Lazarus Boora, known as Gringo, joins other actors and actresses in a drama at the funeral of Stella January in Mufakose

She did the same for the late yesteryear sungura music great Robson Kaitano; she visited him at the hospital where he had been admitted.

According to January’s sister, Mrs Slyvia Scott, the actress had been in and out of hospital, and had undergone many operations before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer last year.

Speaking at the actress’ home, the First Lady chronicled her journey with January and implored women to work hard and lead dignified lives to earn good names for themselves.

As health ambassador, the First Lady also implored women to undergo cancer screening so they can be diagnosed early and get treatment early to save lives.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa and actress Patience Musa, popularly known as Mai Jilimbi, join the crowd in singing gospel songs during the funeral wake for actress Stella January in Mufakose

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa and actress Patience Musa, popularly known as Mai Jilimbi, join the crowd in singing gospel songs during the funeral wake for actress Stella January in Mufakose

“I was so touched because I worked with her on programmes concerning girls. We said what then shall we do about our daughters who are doing things that are not expected of girls? We sat down and produced a film called ‘Rujeko’ together with Baba Aaron Chiundura Moyo, who was leading us. I came up with an idea to have a film which teaches our girl-child good morals and what is expected of them. We sat down and came up with the plot and many actresses I had selected, including Stella, played certain roles under the leadership of the veteran actor and we produced a film called ‘Rujeko’. I worked with these actresses for a very long time as we produced the film. I saw that Stella January was gifted. I discovered she was talented as an actress. When she plays a role, you see the reality and you are left without doubts. We have lost a talented actress. I told the President about her and he remarked that I work with a lot of people. I am not selective; I work with everyone,” the First Lady told the mourners.

The mother of the nation spoke about her first encounter with local actors and actresses.

“I invited them to my office and told them that there was a film we intended to produce to train girls. They asked how this was to be done and I told them to sit down and plan and say why are you important as a girl? Do you know who you are in life and for the country to be populated as it is? Do you know where you should stand? When you go to school, what are you supposed to do? You must focus on one thing in school, which are your books. We know the name you were given at birth, but we want you to find another name which accompanies the one you were given by your parents. You will be a doctor, pilot, teacher or anything which will become your other name. This is where we started to come up with that film. They worked hard and there are many others who are here who took part in the project. Stella took a role which she played. We have lost a great talent. She was talented. All the things that she was doing were relatable in real life. She gave her all,” she said.

“I have come here to express my condolences over the loss of our dear sister. I was touched. I never thought on a day like this we would be gathered here mourning Stella. If you see all and sundry coming out to mourn, it shows our strong relations; titori mhuri imwe kana takadai. As Zimbabweans, we come and commiserate with others. I have come as a mother and I have been pained as a woman. I did not know about her sickness. I walked with this girl and worked together with her. I worked with her together with Amai Jesesi Mungoshi and many others here present,” she said.

Artistes carry the casket bearing the body of their colleague Stella January in Mufakose, Harare, on Friday. - Pictures: Innocent Makawa

Artistes carry the casket bearing the body of their colleague Stella January in Mufakose, Harare, on Friday. – Pictures: Innocent Makawa

She had a word of advice to the girls.

“To you, my girls, when counselled on the road by an elder, do not say, ‘Who are you? I have never seen you before and are you done with your own problems? Don’t you have your own child?’ Do not do that because that woman would have been touched by what she would have seen. Mischief will not take you anywhere. Women define homes, so a girl is moulded from a tender age as she grows. The whole country comes from mothers, hence the focus on moulding a girl-child and giving her direction. This is what ‘Rujeko’ was all about.

“As women, we must be dignified so that we are given our rightful positions as women. It is not just a case of girls; it also comes back to us as mothers. Are you behaving well, dignified and dress well? As mothers, we must behave well so that children copy from us. You can’t teach a child good manners when you yourself behave badly. That is where you hear children asking: ‘What about you?’ When the child does so, how will you answer? Ladies and gentlemen, we have lost greatly but we must thank God for the time we lived with Stella. There is nothing we can do. All I can say to you women is: Be screened for cancer. Go to our major hospitals where I put my Angel of Hope Foundation’s mobile hospital and clinic so that you can be screened for free,” she said to applause.

Veteran actor Moyo paid glowing tribute to the First Lady.

“She is not just a First Lady, but an artiste in the real sense. She is the one who came up with the ‘Rujeko’ concept. I had never worked with Stella January. I started working with her on the play ‘Rujeko’ after Amai had selected her, having seen her works. How did I visit State House and work with the First Lady? Her office phoned me and I was shocked when I was told the First Lady wanted to talk to me. When I got there, I was given a warm welcome naAmai. I have never seen a mother who is so humble like the First Lady, Amai Mnangagwa. I was shocked when she spoke about my radio productions and some of the actors, and she told me she wanted a play on girls,” he said.

 

“During that time, as men, we were rushing for young girls and not letting them to mature and our mother said those are the issues we wanted to correct. She told me how she wanted the play crafted. I asked if it was to be political, but she said she stood for all the people and she would reject the play outright if it contained a single line on politics. As we worked, she started also contributing on the cast and she mentioned Stella, among other actors and actresses, a sign that she follows and values our work as artistes. I thank the January family because your daughter was able to work with us. She has made the First Lady visit this place today. She was a true heroine. Artistes must use the opportunities they get fully. Our mother loves us and I say thank you for coming here because this death has opened a new chapter. We want art to be seen as great work. Let us not take drugs like mutoriro and mbanje when doing our work. Amai izvozvo zvemutoriro havazvidi,” he said.

Patience Musa, also known as Mai Jilimba, thanked the First Lady for honouring artistes.

“Amai, we say sorry for the loss of your daughter, Stella January. We were all touched when you came and we felt exalted when you walked in that such an important person as yourself would come to us as actors of Zimbabwe. On behalf of all the artistes, we are so happy and thankful that you have valued us as your family, Mhamha. May you continue to stand with us. Amai, you stand with us in many instances. You stand with orphans, widows and the vulnerable. Muri mai vane mbereko isingazari, vanoda vana vavo vese. You are a hardworking woman. Continue standing for us, especially us as women,” she said.

Another actress, Kessia Masona, popularly known as Muchaneta, shared experiences about her encounter with the mother of the nation, portraying how Amai Mnangagwa has always valued artistes.

Dr Mnangagwa, she said, invited her to a family function to be a master of ceremonies when she was still the Vice President’s wife after being charmed by her acting prowess.

“I was invited to be a master of ceremonies at one of the family’s gatherings. She said she loved the dramas that I work in and called me. This is my testimony to show you that Amai has always valued our work as artistes and actually follows them. She told me not to come alone as I would be lonely and I took along my sister. When we got there, we got the best treatment from Amai. My sister asked where she was and I told her she was the one who was serving us. She was shocked to see how humble she is. I was given a job and was able to pay my fees at university. I thank you Mhamha for your humility and love,” she said.

National Arts Council of Zimbabwe representative Mrs Barbra Gotore echoed similar sentiments.

“Our sector has lost. It being women’s month, we have lost a good contributor. We thank Amai, the First Lady, for supporting us and we urge all artistes to continue excelling,” she said.

January was buried yesterday.

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