The President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa has joined Zimbabweans in mourning the death of Bishop Ribeiro.
Mnangagwa revealed that the bishop saver his life 50 years ago.
“Almost 50 years ago, Father Ribeiro saved my life. When I was sentenced to death in prison, this great man fought for me to live. A gifted composer, a talented writer and a true Zimbabwean hero. May his soul rest in Peace,” tweeted Mnangagwa.
Professor Lovemore Madhuku also joined Zimbabweans in mourning father Ribeiro.
“Father Ribeiro is in a class of his own: Outstanding Catholic priest, an icon of our liberation struggle, transformative author and artist, longest serving cleric of his generation and a unifying national figure. Painful but we mourn with great hope,” tweeted Madhuku.
Ribeiro was Chaplain-General of Zimbabwe’s prisons, military and police between 1978 and 1983.
Among the prominent people that he preached to behind the walls were the late former President Robert Mugabe, whom he considered a friend.
Born in 1935, Ribeiro went to St Francis Xavier’s Kutama College before he joined Chishawasha Seminary in 1952. He went on to study philosophy in 1954 with his ordination as a diocesan priest being held on December 13, 1964.
He once worked in the ministry of education and was at one point the deputy director at the passport office.
Ribeiro was credited for the declaration of seven national heroes who died in the famous Chinhoyi battle that marked the beginning of the Second Chimurenga, Zimbabwe’s war of independence.
This was after he published a book and did the research which led to the recommendations that Simon Chimbodza, Christopher Chatambudza, Nathan Charumuka, Godwin Manyerenyere, Ephraim Shenjere, David Guzuzu and Arthur Maramba be accorded the honour.
He composed a majority of popular catholic hymns during his time as a parish priest and spent his last active role as a priest at Highfield Parish.