Waddilove Institute was last weekend transformed from its usual serene, serious and busy atmosphere into a hive of excited activity as the school took its turn to celebrate 120 years of the United Methodist Church’s existence in Zimbabwe.
Pupils from the institute’s secondary and primary schools gathered at the main hall at the High School premises where they were entertained through various activities including the popular school gospel choir, The Soldiers of Heaven.
Guest of honour at the ceremony, Retired Bishop Reverend Farai Jonah Chirisa (72), graced the occasion and took NewsDay down memory lane to the early years when the church was established — way back in 1891 — by Methodist Missionary John Wesley.
This year dozens of institutions — mainly schools the church has established in Zimbabwe during its 120 years of existence — celebrate the unique achievements that the church has to its credit.
“The United Methodist Church has established 10 high schools seven of which are boarding schools, built over the past 20 years. We also have 11 primary schools and some clinics dotted around the country,” said retired Reverend Chirisa, who went into retirement after 14 years of service as the church’s presiding Bishop.
But perhaps one of Waddilove’s most outstanding achievements other than its shining academic products is its gospel choir — The Soldiers of Heaven — founded 2008 by a group of 15 boys singing a capella gospel songs.
The current group patron Patrick Nyahwo a teacher of English language at the school, said the choir introduced instruments a year later in 2009. The group has since recorded an album, Mbiri Kuna Mwari and a DVD, Our Musical Story between 2010 and this year.
A unique feature of Waddilove Institute is that it has established a growing enrolment for physically challenged pupils at both its primary and high schools.
One of the leaders of the choir, lead vocalist, Audrey Dangirwa is visually impaired, but like scores others like her, their challenges are hardly noticeable because the pupils, even the youngest at primary school, mingle and assist each other so well.
Only good nurturing could have achieved this.
Reverend Morrison Chiundura, the principal and authority at the institute, said discipline was the backbone of Waddilove which stood out as the differentiator between students when schools converged for events like sport and other activities.
Acting headmaster of the high school, Makusha Musekiwa, concurred: “Besides achieving academic excellence, Waddilove’s most crucial of values is discipline among its pupils.”
Isaac Jari, headmaster of the primary school who is also a former student at the institute, said although the school had gone through difficult times at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic problems, the institute had prevailed and continued to produce some of the finest academic results in the country.
“It is no wonder that we have parents from all over the country seeking to have their children enrolled here. We have a proud record of producing academically and behaviourally polished students.
We are determined to carry on this national duty and to continue growing on this route.”
Retired Reverend Chirisa said one of the plans for Waddilove was to develop the school farm into full production to levels where it is capable of supplying its three boarding schools in the region — Kwenda, Chemhanza and Waddilove.