Freedom Mutanda Post Correspondent
Leonard Tsidzirai Makwambeni reached the sunset of his work life in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education on 30 April 2017 and recently.
The education fraternity in Chipinge and the Provincial Education Directorate celebrated his life as a living legend at Chipinge School amid pomp, fanfare and speechifying as hundreds thronged the school to get nuggets of wisdom from the revered educationist whose contribution to the field of education is immeasurable.
His son, Blessing, a Professor of Media Studies at the University of Western Cape, eulogised his father and the path Leonard Makwambeni followed to earn his stripes was fraught with nails.
Mr Makwambeni was born in 1952; he attended primary school at Maronga and Mwacheta Schools before enrolling at Chikore Secondary School. He was a diligent student who later went to Kutama and Bondolfi colleges for his teacher education course in 1975. At college, that’s where he met his future wife, Mrs Rita Makwambeni.
“We are six in our family. Our father has been and still is a source of inspiration and role model for us,’’ said Blessing. Apart from Blessing, there are two medical doctors, two teachers and a social worker who are counted as Leonard Makwambeni’s children.
Mr Trust Chipongo said the retired education inspector was a son of the soil whose down-to-earth demeanour was a character worth emulating.
‘’We celebrate his remarkable journey whose signature tune, Ýebo Dziya’ will remain emblazoned in our collective memories for ages to come. One asks oneself: Will I get to this day of retirement? Dziya was a visionary whose collaborative nature thawed relations no matter how tense at a school. If the district lost a student, teacher, head or anyone in the teaching fraternity, Mr Makwambeni would be there. We should pluck a leaf from his leadership which was exemplary,’’ he said.
Mr Makwambeni has established a new school at Checheche.
His colleague, Mrs Locardia Meda, summed it up by saying her colleague was a father figure at the district education office.
“The man was at one time the best education inspector in Manicaland as he had the highest number of reports on teachers, heads and their deputies. We flocked to him for advice and he dispensed it without fear or favour,’’ she said.
The retired educationist had a flair for the English language as noted by Mr Dezman Mwadira, the Chipinge education human resources officer.
‘’Mr Makwambeni is a wordsmith. Above all, he is a loving man. We say adios Dziya. We meet to part and we part to meet,’’ concluded Mr Mwadira. Chipinge District Schools Inspector, Mr Richard Gabaza, was struck by the humility exhibited by Mr Makwambeni.
“Mr Makwambeni was a dedicated man who went beyond the call of duty. What struck me the most was his being the epitome of humility! Notwithstanding the fact that he is much older than me, he took my instructions without rancour,’’ he said.
In attendance at the farewell party were Mr Edward Shumba (Provincial Educational Director) and his deputy, Mrs Clara Kanoerera.
Mr Shumba thanked Mr Makwambeni for his loyal service to the teaching profession in spite of the challenges that bedevilled the ministry over the years.
‘‘I am happy that the man had a determination to be an academic and he learnt at a time the colonial government practised apartheid in education. For one to be educated, one had to be incredibly intelligent and Mr Makwambeni is one of those rarely gifted people. You can see how he read up to master’s level. He is retired but certainly not tired.
“I wish him well in his future endeavours. Of note is how his wife had stood by him for close to four decades. Ladies, take a leaf from what she has done. Thank you Mrs Makwambeni. You are an inspiration to women,’’ Mr Shumba said.
As Mr Makwambeni exits the formal education system, he is the co-founder of an infant school at Checheche where he continues to touch the children’s lives but his legacy in the education circles will live on.