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Esphezini giant, a spectacle in life and death: Coffin couldn’t fit in hearse

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Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter

 THE atmosphere was sombre and the eulogies were moving as 22-year-old giant, Calvin Moyo who died last Monday was interred at Umvutsha Cemetery in Bulawayo on Thursday morning in an extra-large coffin that could hardly fit in the hearse, and a grave that had to be eventually adjusted.

The mourners were mostly from around Makokoba and Mzilikazi suburbs where he was known. They were gathered to pay their last respects to a young man who presented a spectacular huge physical figure. He carried with him that spectacle even at death as most people had never seen such a long and bulk coffin — for Calvin stood over 2,1 metres tall, weighing well above 130kg, and wore a size 24 pair of shoes. Finding ready made clothes was a challenge for Calvin due to his huge frame. He therefore wore shorts, t-shirts, and home-made sandals (imbatata) which were the only type of shoes his size 24 foot could fit into. He would make the sandals himself from old tryes. 

Calvin died about three hours after arriving at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo where he had come for treatment from Nkayi District where he was living. According to the family, it was discovered that he had untreated diabetes, moments before he died.

“I brought him to Mpilo at about 3pm, he was in Nkayi all along. He had developed sores inside his throat and his health was deteriorating. We were informed that he had diabetes and that it was at very high levels and before he got treatment, he was gone, at around 6pm,” said his mother, Ms Sifiso Moyo.

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The community that included traders from Renkini Long Distance Bus Terminus and Makokoba Market (Emkambo) said Calvin was a friend to all those he met whenever he was in Makokoba where his mother lives. They would give him a few dollars for refreshments whenever he was in their midst as most of them knew of his high food appetite. His burial was evidently a tiring spectacle to the officials from the funeral parlour and the pallbearers owing to challenges that came with burying a man of his physical stature.

“Sicela amadoda aqinileyo sibili abuye azothwala uCalvin, amadoda aqinileyo kuphela (May we have very strong men coming to carry Calvin, only strong men),” pleaded the master of ceremony as the body was about to be removed from the hearse.

It took the effort of 12 “strong men” to lift the brown coffin onto the lowering device. Ordinarily, six pallbearers are required. However, the giant coffin could not fit into the designated grave and had to be removed and placed on the ground before grave diggers with the help of relatives widened the grave and improved its length.

“We had told them of the size of the coffin but it seems it was not dug according to that,” some relatives could be heard saying

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The late Calvin Moyo’s mother being assisted to walk at Umvutshwa Cemetery

Calvin’s mother could be seen covering her face and crying as she tried to hide the pain of seeing her “son struggling” even in his breathless state. While he was alive, he struggled with acromegaly, a rare condition which results from excessive production of growth hormones which causes enlarged bones in face, feet and hands, and other diseases that come with his condition and the struggle continued in his final journey. After several minutes of digging and mourners singing, some even sitting on the sides of the grave, due to fatigue, the size of the grave was adjusted and the strong men once again returned to lower the coffin into the grave.

They finally succeeded and used straps to lower it instead, closing an agony filled chapter of Calvin’s life that was characterised by acromegaly, arthritis of the legs and seizures. The giant had rested. Mr Stanley Ngwenya, a family friend described Calvin, also known as Khutshwekhaya, as a pleasant young man who was a friend to all.

“He was a child, a friend, a nephew, and all names we call children. I had spent some time without seeing him and asked his father about his whereabouts and I was told he was in Nkayi, but just a few days back I was told that Khutshwekhaya had passed on. He arrived at the hospital and died three hours later. All these people that I am seeing from Emkambo lived with Calvin, they were his friends,” he said.

He explained the name Khutshwekhaya.

“I called him Khutshwekhaya because I likened him to the late National Hero Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu, who also did not have a shoe size like this young man, he wore a very large shoe size,” he said.

Calvin’s story was first reported by Sunday News last year after he was spotted in Esiphezini, Umzingwane District in Matabeleland South province, where he was seeking traditional treatment for his condition. — @NyembeziMu



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