The Sunday Mail
20 January 1962 — 1 May 2014
Dates do not hold the same meaning for everyone. The 1st of May 2014 is the culmination of a 30-year journey with a man who was a father, friend, brother, counsellor, advisor, facilitator, cheer-leader and social commentator.
He had to pass on on Workers’ Day because that was what he was — a worker to his last day. He was not an idler in life, content to see others work while he loafs. He worked for others, humbly and diligently without trumpeting his contributions, influence or status. Never seeking his own glory, he worked and worked and worked and worked on.
Doing many thankless things for many: those who would say thank you and others who would scoff afterwards. Everyone who knew him will confess that he received his Worker’s touch. Destined for greatness, but always anchored by a grassroots touch. He always worked to lift people up and put them in a place of level advantage.
For many people, it can easily be said: they came, they saw and they left. Not for this one, The Special One. He would come, he would see and he would selflessly do something to make a difference. He would not preach with pomp about his role, contribution or input. A reluctant hero, never comfortable with dancing alone in the limelight, he was a steadfast torch now taken away from us in its prime. He just was who he was. He took responsibility. He was never one to look at a problem, frown and look aside. No. Not Killian.
Many people choose careers for what they can get. Killian chose a career for what it meant and the service he could give. This was a real Civil Servant. Joining the Civil service in 1984, he looked nowhere else but stuck his nose to his task. He worked whole-heartedly for the people. His was a worker among the people. Labouring in the grassroots.
His life was his work and his work was his life. The service was his only work.
Killian Mupingo was a just and good man. Never was he rush. He would calculate, connect and contribute. He understood his reasonable role and purposed place. Early when I started working he told me that a civil servant was like a horse. Riders may change but his role and place will always remain the same. Indeed he was a strong and steady working horse, ridden by many, but never complaining about his role, lot or carrot. Satisfied to serve in humility. Never one day aspiring to change into a horse rider himself. He remained faithful to the call of dignified and faithful service.
Sometimes the qualities of a person are embedded in his name. Such was the case with Killian.
K – Keeper. He was a keeper, a faithful steward and an administration. He kept his values and understood the essence of Local Government and the Service. He kept things in his large heart and read silently the signs in the sky. He could keep confidence and could be trusted to deliver. He kept rank and therefore was he attested to ever-increasing responsibilities. He was a key team player who lifted his due weight.
I – Intelligent. He was intelligent and had profound insights. He was a thinker and could use his head well. His body could move slowly, but never his quick mind. He was sharp and could relate at all intellectual bandwidths and amplitudes.
L – Leader. He was a true leader. Great leaders make small people feel great in their presence. Killian always kept the common touch. He would rub shoulders with the great, but never one day did he lose the common touch. He never even changed his common man’s diet. He was a visionary and could see further. He had ideas and ideals that he stuck to. The cause to him was more important that personal cushions.
L – Listener. Killian was an engaging listener. His greatest generosity was his ear. He would lend it generously to the big and small. The visionaries and those with insane ideas. To the celebrated and those distressed. He would listen, hear, and do what had to be done. His heart led always.
I – Inspiration. Killian was an inspiration. He gave his best in all he did and inspired many. He inspired family, friend and foe. He was an institution of hope. He knew his field well. He could articulate issues.
A – Articulate. He presented with excellence, spoke with grace and wrote with style. You could not fault his grammar nor his spelling. He had a wide diction and was a grandmaster of the English language. He was in no doubt a connoisseur of the arts. He had refined style and a taste for the good word and communication structure. He took pains to weave a worthy speech. He was an achiever of note.
N – Never-say-die. That’s him. He never gave up, never so easily. He was persistent in battle, courageous in adversity. He stuck through and would journey through. He had fidelity of character. With valour he battled cancer’s blazing flames that were devouring his body. He still wanted to continue and do more. Sadly it was time, way too early for such a man of talent.
I am an undying supporter of a team that shares Chelsea’s blue and white colours. The team is none other than Zimbabwe Saints. The Chelsea manager is the flamboyant Jose Mourinho. In his early contributions at Chelsea his name was “The Special One”. In his recent engagement he has now been christened a “The Only One”. Killian Mupingo shares in many ways the legendary qualities of Mourinho and goes further. In many times in our family and in his work he was “The Special One”. There are countless times that for all who knew him where he was the “Only One”. His life would not be sealed up without his other name: The Working One. Indeed I can bear full testimony to the fact that Killian Mupingo was The Working One, The Loving One, who became The Special One and in time for me he was and will remain: “The Only One”.
Rest in Peace, my Brother.