Sent off like a rockstar

Kabelo Dipholo
MHSRIP: Chitumba 'CHI' Katumbela

Laughter, music and drinks at CHI’s funeral

On a mild Saturday morning, a larger than life, yet very humble soul was laid to rest.

Multitudes from across the country gathered at Chikapi Farm in Matshelagabedi to pay their last respects to Chitumba Israel Katumbela, or CHI as he was popularly known in Francistown.

The fifth-born of seven off-spring, CHI was part of the enterprising Katumbela family, brother to the late Soares Katumbela and Dr Debbie Sanoto.

CHI was born in 1958 to Angolan parents, Geaoge Mauricio Katumbela and Rita Katumbela.

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His father arrived in Botswana through the recruitment of Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (Wenela), as a manager.

The Katumbelas quickly asserted themselves as entrepreneurs of note, opening one of the first shops in the Msemenyenga area, a combined Take Away Restaurant and General Dealer, aptly named ‘Katumbela and Sons’.

OFF TO THE CREMATORY: Friends carrying CHI’s coffin

They were also subsistence agriculturalists who kept chickens, rabbits, doves and also grew all types of vegetables.

In the early 90s, the family business expanded with the addition of a bar and nightclub called RITZMA, an all inclusive entertainment area, which attracted a mixture of local youth and fun-lovers from across the Zimbabwean border.

With money came fortune and status; it was no surprise to learn the Katumbelas were one of the first families to own a car in Francistown.

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This spirit of hard-work and entrepreneurship left a lasting mark on CHI and would be a driving force in his adult life.

With access to cash and anything money could buy, backed up by his natural charm and charisma, he became a hit with the ladies.

Speakers at his funeral spoke in detail of how this Bots-Anglo native got around. He had too many body bags that would put even Mick Jagger to shame.

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“He was a ladies’ man, and he always said he was not the marrying type,” blurted his longtime buddy, Jabulani Ndlovu.

“We lived a wild life. However despite our promiscuity, CHI was always the more focused. While we still stayed with our parents, he already owned a big house in Area S.”

A second member of his close circle, Phetogo ‘City’ Mothuti sent mourners into fits of laughter when he asked CHI’s ex-girlfriends to rise up so everyone could appreciate what they meant.

“His many exes are here,” chuckled Mothuti.

“We used to be naughty, and had so much fun. Luckily for me I long left that life behind and got married,” he assured his audience.

Backing up Ndlovu’s earlier remarks, Mothuti confirmed his late friend had no interest in tying the knot.

“He preferred the solitary life, and that’s how he lived until his last moment on earth,” added Mothuti.

“He was generous and giving. A few ladies gathered here can attest to that. You never left empty handed when you visited him,” another old friend, Biki Moitoi said to the amusement of the mourners.

Despite his womanising ways, CHI was described as a loving and doting dad to his five children.

One of his daughters, Wange Makabe referred to him as her first boyfriend and her first love.

“He loved all his children. He opened a WhatsApp group where all his kids interacted, and he spoke fondly about each one of us,” she revealed.

A feminist activist and community developer, Imelda Molokomme also had kind words for the departed CHI, referring to him as my chef, entrepreneur, fabulous interpreter, awesome son and my wholesome friend.

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“People like CHI don’t die, but teach us how to live,” said Molokomme.

Although he was a qualified Auto Mechanic, CHI’s first love was farming.

In the late 90s, after successfully running his family business and turning it into an empire, he moved to his Chikapi Farm which became a popular chill spot for family and friends.

It was at this farm that hundreds turned up to bid him a final farewell.

Just like in the good old days, the DJ played classic soulful music from the likes of Rod Stewart, PJ Powers, Teddy Pendergrass and Bobby Womack.

Friends popped some bottles and reminisced about happier times and the many long summer nights that CHI used to host them…

Katumbela was cremated. He’s survived by his five children, son-in-law, four grandchildren, two siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews and their children.

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