Kujinga influential, unforgettable educator

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Distinguished educationist, Shona language pundit and unique disciplinarian, Kraspos Kanganga (vaKK) Kujinga, died peacefully at his Morningside home in Masvingo on March 8 2011 at the age of 94.

The name KK Kujinga is almost synonymous with Zimuto Secondary School of the “Tinokwirira” fame, having taught mainly Shona, Bible Knowledge and History at the institution for more than 30 years. In recognition of his diligent and outstanding service, the school named a classroom block after him.

Zimuto produced many prominent people in various spheres, among them former Cabinet ministers Kumbirai Kangai and Dr Witness Mangwende;

former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Science and Technology, Professor Phineas Makhurane;

liberation war veteran and retired Major-General Solomon Mujuru and Rugare Gumbo;

the late eminent lawyer and politician Byron Hove; director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, Professor Sara Feresu;

author and former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Thompson Tsodzo;

and former governor of Masvingo Province, Willard Chiwewe;

distinguished academic and political commentator, Professor John Makumbe;

the current Public Service minister, Professor Eliphas Munokoweshuro.

These and thousands of others within Zimbabwe, Africa and the rest of the Global Village passed through the hands of “vaHaizve..!”

Nick-named “Zidhara” (Old man) in recognition of his strict and uncompromising code of discipline (both in and outside the classroom), Kujinga surprisingly did not rely on the rod or cane to enforce rules. Instead, he believed in tough but restrained talk spiced with sarcasm.

This was despite his thorough knowledge of Biblical teachings regarding the perils of “sparing the rod”. Because of his inimitable character and composure, Kujinga ranks among the most influential and unforgettable educators.

Kujinga, together with the likes of the late prominent educationist Peter Mahlangu, was among the first black university graduates in this country, following the foot-steps of nationalist and lawyer Herbert Chitepo.

He attained a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Fort Hare in 1958. His studying pattern led the university authorities to name the tree under which he habitually read, “Kujinga Tree”. It thrives at Fort Hare to this day.

His academic career sprouted at Pamushana Dutch Reformed Church Mission, where he completed Standard Six in 1935.

The following year he was baptised into what is now the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe.

Kujinga attained his Elementary Teacher’s Certificate at Morgenster Teachers’ College in 1939 after which he taught at Makotore and Muroyi schools in Bikita and Zaka respectively between 1940 and 1943. He proceeded to St Augustine’s Mission in Penhalonga, where he obtained the University Junior Certificate in 1946.

At St Augustine’s, he met educated people like pioneer graduate Herbert Chitepo, who encouraged him to enrol at Adams College in South Africa.

There he obtained the Matriculation Certificate in 1948, becoming one of the first Africans from the then Rhodesia to attain such a qualification at the college.

Kujinga then proceeded to the University of Fort Hare for a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Between 1958 and 1961, he obtained further course qualifications with the University of South Africa in subjects that included Shona and History. In 1963 he obtained a Post Graduate Certificate in Education with the University of London.

He became the first black graduate to teach at Dutch Reformed Church schools and also taught at Makumbe and Gutu Mission.

After retiring from teaching, Kujinga engaged full time in his life-time hobby of agriculture at his plot on the outskirts of Masvingo where he remained until he succumbed to high blood pressure and arthritis.

Some of his former students commented on the passing away of Kujinga. Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said: “Kujinga taught me Shona in 1960. He was mature, constructive and helpful. He was full of advice to young people and very respectful.”

Professor John Makumbe said “the man was very humble, he applied himself to his work diligently. He was sincere in working with others and for the benefit of the nation. In his passing we have lost a real hero”.

Professor Eliphas Munokoweshuro said: “Kujinga taught me history at Zimuto Mission between 1969 and 1970. He was a very effective teacher, dedicated to his work and cared for all students.

He was a pillar of strength to us even outside the classroom. He had virtues of hard work and uprightness. His impact on us contributed to what we are today.”