Tribute to Prof Mandishona

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PRESIDENT EMMERSON MNANGAGWA recently granted a  State-assisted funeral to the late Professor Gibson Mandishona.

The distinguished artiste, scientist and mathematician succumbed to a stroke at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. 

He was 80.

Born on February 2 1943 in Makwiro, Zvimba, Chegutu, Prof Mandishona was also a proficient musician.

In a statement, Chief Secretary to The President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said: “Professor Mandishona served on several Boards, was instrumental in a development of the arts sector and was an educationist par excellence.” 

Prof Masndishona enrolled at the University College of Rhodesia for a Bachelor of Science degree from 1962 to 1965. 

He later left for the UK to advance his academic studies where he attained a MSc and PhD in mathematics from the University of Exeter, Kent and Nottingham between 1969 and 975.

In between his studies, he worked as a statistician for the Pfizer Group from 1965 to 1969. 

He also worked as a mathematics lecturer at the universities of Nottingham (1972-74) and London (1974-75) before moving to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to work for the UN as a consultant in statistics and demography between 1976 and 1980.

In 1979 and whilst in Ethiopia working as a consultant for the UN and leading the UN Jazz Band made up of diplomats and activists, Dr Mandishona met Robert Nester Marley.

It was during their meeting in Addis Ababa that the two late gifted artistes co-wrote the song ‘Zimbabwe’. 

Below are some of the lyrics:

“Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny

And in this judgment there is no partiality.

So arm in arms, with arms, we’ll fight this little struggle

Cause that’s the only way we can overcome our little trouble.

Brother, you’re right, you’re right

You’re right, you’re right, you’re so right!

We gon’ fight (we gon’ fight), we’ll have to fight (we gon’ fight)

We gonna fight (we gon’ fight), fight for our rights!

Natty Dread it in-a (Zimbabwe)

Set it up in (Zimbabwe)

Mash it up-a in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)

Africans a-liberate (Zimbabwe), yeah.

No more internal power struggle

We come together to overcome the little trouble.

Soon we’ll find out who is the real revolutionary

Cause I don’t want my people to be contrary.

And, brother, you’re right, you’re right

You’re right, you’re right, you’re so right!

We’ll ‘ave to fight (we gon’ fight), we gonna fight (we gon’ fight)

We’ll ‘ave to fight (we gon’ fight), fighting for our rights!

Mash it up in-a (Zimbabwe)

Natty trash it in-a (Zimbabwe)

Africans a-liberate Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)

I’n’I a-liberate Zimbabwe.

(Brother, you’re right,) you’re right

You’re right, you’re right, you’re so right!

We gon’ fight (we gon’ fight), we’ll ‘ave to fight (we gon’ fight)

We gonna fight (we gon’ fight), fighting for our rights!

To divide and rule could only tear us apart

In everyman chest, mm – there beats a heart.

So soon we’ll find out who are the real revolutionaries

And I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.”

It is worthy to note that Prof Mandishona’s music career started at a young age when he played the guitar with Andrew Chakanyuka for Bill Saidi’s group, The Star Gazers, in Mbare where he grew up.

He is also honoured for his significant role in the development of jazz in the country as he was a patron of the Zimbabwe National Jazz Festival.

He also played for the Gay Gaeties, a group which his sister Grace was part of. 

The group was made up of nurses from Harare Central Hospital (now Sally Mugabe Hospital) who got together to challenge male domination of the music industry at the time.

Prof Mandishona was also the first Board Chairman of the Harare Institute of Technology which was established in 1988.

He was also at the helm of the Centre for Renewable Energy and Environmental Technology, which is involved in advancing green energy. 

Other than that, Dr Mandishona was a celebrated research scientist and mathematician. 

He left the CSO in 1993 and was appointed project manager of the Zimbabwe Solar Pilot project from 1993-98.

He is the founder of the Centre for Renewable Energy and Environmental Technology (CREET), the Scientific and Industrial Research Centre and the founding chairman of ZIMSTATS.

In 2021, Prof Mandishona received the Order of the Star of Zimbabwe Silver Medal Award during the 2021 Heroes and Defence Forces Day commemorations.

The distinguished academic was a recipient of numerous academic honours and was set to be conferred with an honorary Doctorate Degree of the London Gratitude School and Commonwealth University of Business Arts and Technology for his lifetime achievements and contributions in October this year. 

His nephew Joseph Chapoloza described the late Prof Mandishona as a unifier who loved his family.

“My uncle was a unifier who thrived for our family to be united always,” said Chapoloza.

“He loved everyone and would assist anyone in need of his psychological, moral or financial support and his passing is a great loss to us as a family and the nation at large.”

Prof Mandishona was buried at is rural home in Chikwaka.

He will forever be remembered for his sterling works. May his soul rest in peace! 

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