OBITUARY: Esther Massundah, a workaholic gone too soon

By Michael Gwarisa

ESTHER Massundah or the Queen as she was affectionately known within the National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) was a perfectionist and workaholic. She paid attention to detail.

A simple tiny typo on her surname which I used to write as Masunda before being corrected countless times over the phone earned me numerous mini lectures on how to write her name correctly.

“Its Massundha Mike, not that Masunda,” she would say before bursting into laughter at the other end of phone. Even though on countless times I would question her surname’s origins and meaning, she maintained that it was perfect as it is.

Esther was just that, a Perfectionist and Public Relations expert Par excellence. Esther was the kind of person who wouldn’t sleep until her job was done perfectly even if it meant calling you at 11:00 in the evening to check if there has been any progress regarding what you would have agreed. She didn’t take negative publicity and misrepresentation lightly especially when it involved the blood bank.

For some local scribes, working with Ester was no walk in the park. Some colleagues who didn’t agree with Esther’s modus operandi threw in the towel along the way and made it a point to avoid her at all cost.

But that is not to say she was an evil person, NO, not even an inch. Esther wanted facts and she was one Public Affairs and media relations individual who was always ready to respond to questions at any time of the day. Maybe that’s why she would get agitated whenever there was misrepresentation from the media.

Esther demanded her deadlines and wanted her work delivered on time. As long as one showed signs of feebleness, she would literally erupt. Even though I worked with Esther on numerous occasions, I vividly remember in July 2020 at the height of the first coronavirus wave in Zimbabwe during the World Blood Donor month period when as HealthTimes, we proposed to collaborate with the NBSZ to host a Blood Donor Month Webinar.

She would call almost after every two hours just to check on the progress around planning for the virtual meeting. Since we were both first timers in hosting a meeting of this magnitude, we feared for the worst.

“How far have you gone with designing the promotional Flyers for the Webinar?” she would ask. “Ohhh no, that’s not the perfect color and the font size and background, try something like this. We can’t afford to mess this up.”

I remember her ecstatic voice over the phone after we had successfully hosted the virtual meeting where experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) and the NBSZ converged. Her job had been done; she had achieved.

She had a penchant for news and any developments that would be happening in the health sector. For some reason, Esther thought because I am a health journalist, maybe I knew every nitty gritty and detail of what would be happening in the sector. To cut her off at times, I would lie saying I would do my sniffing around and rivet.

Esther’s greatest fear was failure and she had a love of finer things. She was just allergic to failure. She believed in the “Eagles Fly with Eagles” mantra. She didn’t want to be associated with mediocrity. Any award that came her way no matter how small, she would ululate and jubilate. That is who she was, she was a winner

She had a trademark gap tooth which made her smile effortlessly. She was one bubbly character. Her greatest fear of late had become COVID-19. She didn’t want to take any chances with the virus. Her last message to me on my WhatsApp was “Stay Safe, you are God’s precious treasure.”

When news of her death reached my phone in the morning of February, 9 2021, i wondered what could have cut short such a young person’s life. For once I thought it was the dreaded virus only to get a confirmation from the NBSZ later that her COVID-19 result had come out negative.

A friend, a God-fearing woman and a member of the Apostle Kanyati led Presidents of Grace unlimited. I shall not claim to know Esther inside out but all I know is that for the few years I have known her, I will forever cherish the good relations we shared. The heavens have gained an angel.

Fare thee well Queen Esther.

Burial arrangements will be advised in due course. – Healthtimes 🔺

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