The spiritual leader of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) Mbungo, Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi, was on Saturday conferred with an honorary Doctorate in Philosophy (DPhil) by the University of Zimbabwe(UZ).
In his acceptance speech after being capped by the UZ Chancellor President Robert Mugabe, the bishop said the honour came as a huge surprise and he was deeply humbled.
“In my wildest dreams I never imagined that one day I would be bestowed an honorary degree by the UZ. I am greatly humbled by the recognition. Words fail me. For whatever little that I did that the UZ recognised me for, it was done for Zimbabweans. It was done for humanity and I do not intend to give up,” the bishop said.
Presenting the citation, Dr Claud Mararike, a member of the University Senate, said the UZ Senate had approved Bishop Mutendi’s conferment of the award due to his immense contribution to the improvement of the education system in Zimbabwe in general and for the visually-impaired in particular.
Mararike said Mutendi had established the Dopota School for the Blind in a bid to ensure the visually-handicapped attained basic literacy. The former Rhodesian Teachers’ Association trade unionist and teacher succeeded his father, Samuel, the founder of the ZCC, upon his death in 1976.
Mutendi taught at various schools and was ordained bishop in 1977. He has spearheaded the establishment of educational institutions including Dopota School, Mutendi High School and Hebron in Masvingo and has pioneered 350 adult literacy centres across the country.
In addition, Mutendi has been involved in charity work and food relief for orphaned and vulnerable children. He has also initiated a mission station at Chimoio, Mozambique, in recognition of the liberation struggle.
The graduation at the weekend saw the conferment of doctorate, masters’ and bachelors’ degrees and diplomas to 2 300 graduands from 10 faculties. Among the graduates were Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, who graduated with a Master of Science Degree in International Relations.