By Renn Offor
From East Africa to Southern Africa, Central to West Africa, the shock waves of the sudden demise of one of Africa’s best and passionate tourism legend, Belinda Mutinhiri, has evoked nonstop reactions on the internet even as condolence messages continued pouring in. Indeed, Africa just lost a Legend in Belinda Mutinhiri of Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
The life of Belinda Mutinhiri can be likened to that of a shooting star! She lived a full life of fun and like a shooting star, her amazing streaks of light, a light passionately channeled towards uplifting tourism on the African landscape, is today seen shining brightly in the night sky of Africa! And her efforts have formed, like the tiny bits of dust and rock called meteoroids, have fallen into different parts of Africa; but instead of being short lived and burning up in her demise like meteoroid, her glow would forever be remembered and cherished in Africa!
Taking to his Facebook page to commiserate with the Mutinhiri’s family, Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism & Hospitality Industry at Government of Zimbabwe wrote, ‘Belinda Mutinhiri Itai Daisy Mutinhiri, Sugar Chagonda , it is with a deep sense of shock and pain, that we have learnt of the tragic departure and loss of one of our most energetic marketers of Brand Zimbabwe, Belinda Mutinhiri, whom I affectionately referred to as” daughter”, and she in return never referred to me as Minister but “Daddy”, as am oftenly called by Team Tourism. She was so full of life, team spirit, and creativity, virtues that are hallmarks of what is required to propel our brand going forward. Never one to name drop her connections even at a time when both her parents were with me in Cabinet, nor change her accent or disposition due to a privileged diplomatic upbringing, nor give a hint of Family estrangement even when it was all in the public domain, she remained as angelic as ever, full of laughter and party spirit!
‘We indeed have been robbed, and we wish to extend our deepest condolences on behalf of my Ministry, the ZTA, and Industry and my family to the Mutinhiri Family and assure you that your loss is our loss, and even as I extend this message from France, we are with you in spirit over this tragic loss. I am confident the ZTA, will intervene appropriately to give her a befitting send off. May her dear soul rest in peace till we are united again in resurrection. Walter and Barbara M Mzembi’.
Mr. Ikechi Uko, a Nigerian, the organizer of the Akwaaba African Travel Market and Team leader of Team Africa on his Facebook page while talking on the painful demise, said, ‘Waturi Wa Matu of Kenya once said after receiving the Africa Legend Award in Lagos that Belinda should be credited with the linking of East Africa and Southern African Tourism players. She also credited me Ikechi Uko for linking West Africa to East Africa. Waturi refused to take the credit for all the work she did herself. Since then the South African Tourism Duo of Malefu Mahlaba and Lehlohonolo Pitso have been driving the integration of tourism in Africa. That most of us are on first name basis with each other across Africa together is a credit to the pioneering work done by People like Belinda in breaking the barriers in Africa. Fare thee well Belinda. Africa will never forget you. We shall all remember you.’
And Lehlohonolo Pitso, West Africa Regional Director for South African Tourism, based in Nigeria, reacting to the news extoled the achievements of Belinda Mutinhiri, saying that she was an ‘African Tourism Pioneer indeed! The industry has lost a team player! May her soul rest in peace!’
Again, Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome of ETN Africa, based in Uganda reacted on his page saying that he received the, ‘Devastating news from Zimbabwe where my dear friend Belinda Mutinhiri of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, earlier this morning passed away following a tragic car accident.’
Probably, Wolfgang seemed to be the last person among so many posts who had a last discussion with Belinda before she passed.
‘During the week we were discussing my next visit to Zimbabwe and now this … all her friends on my TL, please take notice and do send your own messages of sympathy and condolences to her family and friends and of course her colleagues at #ZimbabweTourism and the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry’, Wolfgang condoled.
And very touching was the reaction of Denis Gathanju, Publisher and Editor at Safari Communications which operates in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Denis had this to say about the supportive and passionate side about Belinda Mutinhiri:
‘Everyone has a story and there are reasons why certain people come into your life. When I got kicked out of Zimbabwe not so long ago, Belinda Mutinhiri was the person who worked behind the scenes to sort me out. I was driven back to South Africa by a very rude immigration officer and escorted by an armed officer. Belinda kept in touch with me while promising to get me cleared to re-enter Zimbabwe. My passport indicated I am a journalist and thus the unceremonious send off from Zim. I happened to choose the wrong time to fly to Zimbabwe as the elections were just around the corner and foreign journalists were simply not welcome.
‘Before then, I had never been kicked out of any country. I never felt so much pain; if there was a moment I was never proud of what I do for a living, it was that moment when I was marched across the Limpopo like a leper. But Belinda still managed to make me feel better. Amidst the pain and humiliation of being marched out of an African country, she made me smile. Let’s pray for her family and her close friends who are now in pain. I mourn a friend that is a friend of my friend and a friend of many friends. RIP Belinda’.
Waturi Wa Matu started by saying she was ‘feeling devastated’, writing from Nairobi in Kenya. She continues, ‘In March this year, Belinda Mutinhiri invited me to speak at Sanganai, the premier Tourism Expo in Zimbabwe. I hesitated, June was already looking very crazy…..she was keen to showcase Zim, but most important, keen to promote Intra Africa Tourism for Africans, my philosophy……TeamAfrica has lost a true legend, selfless, fun, unpretentious and authentically African. May her Soul Rest in Peace and my most sincere condolences to her family and friends.
And Praise Mazhandu, her colleague at work pouring out her grief, lamented, ‘Belinda Mutinhiri you have broken my heart my dear friend. Now all I have are those many memories of you being you. You were the greatest marketer for Zimbabwe to Africa. Tourism in Africa has lost a legend. We worked well together and we made a great team and now my team has lost one of its key key players. Everyday work life won’t be the same without you coming into our office calling Stacys Kateand I ‘ma boss angu’. You won’t be there to complain about the stairs, tell us stories, eat in your ‘dinner plate’, My heart is aching Belinda. You worked so hard for your flower Chloe, you did everything for her.
‘I pray for God to comfort and may she be what she wants in life with the guidance of your mom, dad, sister and brother. Your love for life who be greatly remembered, Fridays you used to call Pariah’ ku ruwadzano not to be missed’ , your love for rhumba with Kiri Achiera Gumunyu and the crew. You are the one who used to fill us in on social tings. Our lives changed from Saturday Belinda. The hole you have left in Destination Marketing is toooooo toooooo big and absolutely no one will fill it. Satan andiitira rinonzi shura. Tochema hedu me tariro. I will always love and miss you Bels. Ndarwadziwa hangu’.
It would be recalled that Belinda Tafadzwa Mutinhiri, the eldest daughter of the Minister of State for Mashonaland East Province retired Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri and former Zanu PF MP Tracy Mutinhiri, has died in a car crash.
Belinda who worked at the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority is reported to have been killed in the accident which occurred along the Borrowdale Road in Harare, Saturday morning, when the car she was driving veered off the road and overturned.
Her last update Friday evening on Facebook was a check-in saying: “Belinda Mutinhiri was drinking cocktails at News Cafe Fife Ave Harare with Glo Diamond, Farayi Madzime and Nyasha Yvette Chitambo.”
Belinda’s younger sister Vimbai Mutinhiri, is a prominent model and TV presenter based in Nigeria. She took to Twitter saying; “I thought I knew pain. @Tafmutin this can’t be it.”
Vimbai then proceeded to tweet a family picture with the caption “The 3 Musketeers. God knows best. The darkest day of my life. I don’t know if I can ever accept.”
A relative of the UK based Glo Diamond has meanwhile confirmed the accident saying;
“Just to let you all know…Glorianne was involved in a serious car accident early hours of this morning in Harare…if there is anymore information you would like to know please contact me and respect Glorianne and our family privacy at this time.” Nehanda Radio.
Belinda Mutinhiri was buried at Glen Forest Cemetery last Wednesday.-atqnews