By Sr. Thabisani Dube
Harare, 7 July 2023 –Natividad Isabel Peña Bonilla, the Ambassador of Spain, presented certificates and long service awards to two priests and staff members for their hard work and dedication to duty on 4 July 2023 at the Embassy of Spain. The two priests are Frs. Ángel Arnaldo and Ildefonso Trujillo while Ephraim Darara and Robert Chamunorwa Ndawi were praised for their loyalty and service to the Embassy of Spain for years spanning 40 and 13 years respectively.
The Ambassador of Spain, Natividad Isabel Peña Bonilla acknowledged the contribution done by the two priests in bringing about social change in the communities of Hwange and Binga and in Zimbabwe as a whole.
“This is not only an event of recognition from the State but also the best occasion to publicly show our affection and gratitude to those honoured today. The civil recognition on granting these honours to Father Ángel Arnaldo Conesa, Missionary Ildefonso Trujillo López, Mr. Ephraim Darara and Mr. Robert Ndawi, is based not only on the services rendered in carrying out their professional duties but also in their capacity to do it with exeptional selflessness,” said Ambassador Natividad.”
Father Arnaldo, who is affectionately known in the Binga community as Fr. Siankuku – has been in Zimbabwe for over 60 years doing missionary work during which time he, among other things, founded the Catholic Mission of Kariangwe in Binga, several primary schools and health centres in Matabeleland North and Midlands Provinces. He was handed the Cross of the Order of Saint Elizabeth. His love for chicken in the communty led them to calling him by his moniker, Siankuku.
In accepting the honour, Fr. Arnaldo said: “I worked with so many people in Hwange and l learnt Nyanja and Tonga in Binga. l pushed for the education of the girl child because at that time only boys were sent to school. For all l have done l give praise to God.”
Father Ildefonso was also handed the Cross of the Order of Saint Elizabeth for his work in Zimbabwe since 1968 under the umbrella of the Spanish Institute of Foreign Missions (IEME). He briefly returned to Spain to support the formation of future missionaries. Father Ildefonso returned to Zimbabwe and founded Jotsholo Mission in Hwange Diocese. He is known for his strong stance in defending the dignity of the rural community in their quest for proper recognition of their traditions.
Fr. Ildefonso said: “For me it was a surprise to be called to the Embassy. What l have done for people during difficult times of the war until today, has given me joy and happiness.”
Mr. Ephraim Darara has been the chef at the Spanish Residence since 1981 doing his work dilegently for all who have passed through the Embassy. Darara has also been a key player in hosting Spanish National Day receptions and official visits such as that of the King and Queen of Spain in 1986. He was given the Cross of the Civil Merit.
“I am always a joyous person as you can see. Maybe that is why the Ambassador loves me. I have worked with different Ambassodors some were nice and some were strict but i told myself that they will one day leave.”
Robert Chamunorwa Ndawi has been with the Embassy for 13 years as a driver. For all his service he was awarded with the Cross of the Civil Merit.
“I would like to thank the Ambassador and all my co-wokers and my parents for never giving up on me and always encouraging me to be a good person and courteous to all I come across.”
Among those present were the Apostolic Nuncio to Zimmbabwe Paolo Rudelli, Emeritus Bishop of Hwange Alberto Serrano, Bishop Raphael Mabuza Ncube, Bishop Elect for Gokwe Diocese, Monsignor Eusebius Nyathi, the clergy and the laity.