HomeFeatureTribute to Headman Chiadzwa…a development icon in his own right

Tribute to Headman Chiadzwa…a development icon in his own right

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By Special Matarirano

I MAY not be the best to write about the late Headman Robert Chiadzwa who died on March 4 2023 at Mutambara Hospital after a very short illness, but the little time I saw and conversed with him over the developmental aspirations of the Chiadzwa community in Mutare made me pen this article. 

Headman Chiadzwa’s death will be felt not only by his people, but the entire nation. 

His life was at the centre of diamond mining in Zimbabwe from his coronation in 2011 and his ascendancy to the ‘throne’ of one of the pivotal communities in Zimbabwe, Chiadzwa, exposed and heavily tested his leadership pedigree. 

Despite pressure from Western countries to tarnish the diamond mining value chain in Zimbabwe, he remained resolute and fought in his country’s corner. 

He warded off many blows aimed at the country by Western-backed unprogressive global forces. 

Indeed, a person’s worth is measured by his values. 

The late headman valued his country.

We are inspired by Headman Chiadzwa’s most impressive career as a tested teacher, a proprietor of repute and an educationist of distinction. 

From his years at Chitora where he had his early experience in teaching through the tutelage of his father Enock Chikoti Chiadzwa (the pastor-teacher), to his years at Mutambara, Hartzel, Mogenster and University of Zimbabwe, and his long years at Bernard Mzeki College where he truly distinguished himself as the first black headmaster and an educationist of note, we learn of perseverance, dedication and devotion. 

A fair assessment, therefore, of the character and ability of the late Headman Chiadzwa, even to me, who arrived in Chiadzwa in March 2022, forces both those who knew him for long to agree with me that he was intelligent, consistent, patient, patriotic and very hardworking. 

My interpretation is that the late Headman Chiadzwa was not only a traditional leader on a mission, but he was also a larger than life man who epitomised the patient heroic spirit of our patriotic resistance against the forces of colonialism.

Born three years after the Land Apportionment Act’s enactment in Rhodesia in 1933, Headman Chiadzwa had a colonial baptism of racial prejudice. 

This Rhodesian segregationist measure that governed land allocation and acquisition ensured a resolve in young Chiadzwa later in life to play a part in the liberation struggle. 

In early 1978, while at Bernard Mzeki as a headmaster, he was arrested for helping (freedom fighters) with food, clothes, small portable radios and tape recorders. 

It took Bishop Boroughs of the Anglican Church a lot of guts to mount a legal representation for ‘the first black’ headmaster of Bernard Mzeki to be released. 

Headman Chiadzwa was later given a five-year suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay Rh$150 dollars. 

The late Headman Chiadzwa was a patriotic and highly respected traditional ruler who had immeasurable love for his people and great faith in a united Chiadzwa. 

I remember driving him around Chiadzwa schools as he was leading the Anjin Schools Bursary for learners around his community. 

At that time, we started with only 14 bursary-sponsored learners and later developed it to 150 learners from almost 15 schools around Marange. 

To me, this was and remains an ‘act for the future’ by the late Headman Chiadzwa. 

He believed in the youth and wanted to give them a future. 

I remember his firmness in support of Government at all levels when we were in Victoria Falls attending the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA) Conference in 2022. 

We talked about the history of Chiadzwa as a community and the intricacies thereto. 

He even hinted on the rapturous ‘cultural rights’ protest of November 4 2021 against Anjin Investment mining company. He talked of corrective measures to the debacle. 

He talked about the descendants of Marangeni, the long-forgotten traditions and how they needed to be passed on and kept alive. 

Lastly, he asked me which Church denomination I go to? 

When I told him I did not have a Church, he told me that ‘sometimes you need to pray’ to go through challenges. 

Headman Chiadzwa stood out as a voice of honesty and forthrightness in all community affairs, even in the hullaballoo of diamond mining stories. 

He was, at the same time, a fervent promoter of mutual tolerance and understanding, not only among the diverse people who lived in his domain but also across Manicaland.

Wherever we met, he would speak development, peace and harmony. 

I believe the late headman has left a strong message and a great challenge for all of us. 

Some of the lessons are that we should never forget our history and we should care for our communities and make our time, appointments and ranks count for the betterment of all. 

Most importantly, I learnt through him that we should maintain and promote the great spirit of solidarity between our communities, people and nation. 

Headman Chiadzwa’s journey to meet his ancestors means an irreplaceable loss to his family, Chiadzwa community, Marange, Manicaland and, indeed, Zimbabwe. 

May his soul rest in peace! 

Special Matarirano is the public relations manager for Anjin Investment (Private) Limited, a journalist and filmmaker who can be contacted on specialmatarirano39@gmail.com

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