THE late Daily News Assistant Editor, Maxwell Sibanda, was given a befitting send-off after dozens thronged his burial at his rural home in Shadaya Village, Chikomba District, Mashonaland East, yesterday.
Sibanda, 52, who passed away due to renal-related complications at a Harare private hospital on Sunday night, was described at his burial as a man of the people, who will be solely missed.
Throughout his career, Sibanda had distinguished himself as a well-respected art critic and all-round journalist.
Addressing mourners at the interment, the Daily News General Manager Sales and Marketing Plaxedes Meki said Sibanda was a hard-working team player, who had the company — Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) — at heart.
“On behalf of the Daily News family, we want to thank the time God gave us to work with Sibanda. He was a soft-spoken, but efficient manager who always came up with innovative ideas, both for the newsroom and the marketing side of things.
“It was a pleasure working with Sibanda because he was a good person, both professionally and individually.
“I cannot explain our grief enough, save to say go well Maxwell. The doyen of journalism,” Meki said.
Sibanda’s burial was attended by the who is who of the arts industry, including Zora music legend, Leonard Zhakata, who was a close friend of the departed.
Scores of Sibanda’s colleagues in the media fraternity such as veteran freelance journalist Godwin Mangudlya, Associated Press Zimbabwe correspondent Farai Mutsaka and Veritas’ Valentine Maponga attended the burial.
Zhakata told mourners that his friendship with Sibanda dated back three decades when he was still a nonentity, trying to make inroads in music circles.
“I’m not used to talking much, but if I don’t speak here, where else would I be able to speak? Maxwell became more of a brother than a friend after he became the first person to give me the limelight by writing the first article about my musical career.
“There are a lot of things I did for him that I didn’t do for my own brother just as much there are a lot of things he did for me that he probably didn’t manage to do for his siblings,” the Mugove hitmaker said.
“He knew me from bottom to top just as I knew him, hence I will always be part of this family, visit as I always did. We were together in Germany and our relationship has always been genuine.
“We always told each other the truth whenever we felt one of us was doing wrong and that strengthened our bond,” Zhakata said further.
Village head Shadaya also weighed in, saying Sibanda was an honest subject, who never wronged anyone in the village and was also philanthropic.
“There is not a single incident when I had to call my court to hear a case involving Sibanda.
“Instead, my son helped so many vulnerable children in the village by paying their school fees. We will no longer be our normal selves without him. Go well my son,” he said.
Sibanda joined the Daily News soon after its inception in 1999 before the country’s leading daily newspaper was unjustly shut by the late former president Robert Mugabe’s government in 2002. From there, he went to live abroad in Germany and Austria where he continued to be an arts advocate through his writing.
Sibanda returned to Zimbabwe and re-joined the Daily News towards the end of 2010 shortly before the paper’s relaunch in March the following year.
At the time of his death, Sibanda had risen to become the Daily News Assistant Editor and was a greatly valued member of the editorial team.
Following the news of his death, ANZ chairperson Professor Norman Nyazema described Sibanda as a loyal servant to the group, shown by his long service to the Daily News.
Other prominent players in the arts, creative and media industries all paid tribute to Sibanda for the sterling work he has done.