BY KENNETH MUFUKA
When Blessing Kawanzaruwa accepted a position at Kutsaga Research Station Primary School near Epworth in Harare in 1984, rising to the position of acting head at the time he left in 2002, a curious thing happened.
Writing in his autobiography, A Gentle Giant, The Life of Blessing Kawanzaruwa, he says that they had entertained one of their cousins from the remote Kore Kore paramount chieftaincy at the table.
“News went around that my wife was very hospitable … that she would let him serve himself at the table, meaning that he could choose the chicken pieces he liked.”
Before he knew it, the Kawanzaruwa household became a stop-over, not only for his Kore Kore tribesmen, who had business in Harare, but for his Zezuru wife’s tribesmen as well.
The lesson Kawanzaruwa drew from all this was that education was the key to poverty alleviation.
But as this vision grew, the imponderable issue was the modalities of financing such a vision.
When he and his wife Dr Gallie moved to Sunderland, in the United Kingdom, and later to the United Arab Emirates, and prosperity came their way, another vision came his way, the Blessing Kawanzaruwa Foundation.
On April 17, 2017, while in the final stages of his memoirs, Kawanzaruwa passed away.
A thousand yards off the famous St Patrick’s Road in Old Hatfield, 54 Glamis St, Hatfield, at a quiet corner, one sees an assuming sign with this name: Hatfield Elite Academy.
The sign is deceptive because behind it, a group of Zimbabwean educators and students are quietly working at a dream aimed at reaching the stars.
Led by veteran dream catcher, head teacher Daniel Senzere and school board chairperson Thomas Chidavaenzi, they converted an old colonial homestead into a state-of-the-art school to achieve this dream.
Dr Gallie, a senior academic adviser in the United Arab Emirates, makes sure the school is well endowed with modern technology to address the STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] requirements of an elite school in Zimbabwe.
The cleanliness of the school, beginning with the freshly painted sign at the entrance, a security guard wearing new overalls, a new traffic control jacket, and even a new cap, makes the visitor aware that there is something serious going on behind these
The Christian ethic that envelops the school is reflected everywhere, to do good, to love your neighbour, and to avoid doing stupid things.
This is only an eye opener as one enters the headmaster’s office. The white ceramic tiles are so clean that they reflect the visitor’s image as we are seated.
In a unique arrangement, where the headmaster works with the school board chairperson, one begins to appreciate the fact that this school is moulded in the image of the great schoolmasters of yesterday.
Speaking to the students and a team of teacher dreamers, one can see clearly that here is an attempt, in the tradition of Kwegyr Aggrey of Africa, to kindle a fire in the hearts of the scholars, sufficient to push them towards the stars.
As I talked to the students and teachers, the revelation slowly came to me that the foundational principles of the schools are gradually being absorbed by the scholars.
Based on Christian principles, even the pre-schoolers seem to be conscious that they are the dream catchers.
A student asks politely if she can drink from her personal water bottle. They walk in easy formation, one waiting and helping the smallest kid.
I wondered if these super kids, as we call them in the US, were aware of South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s adage that: “I am because you are!”
In the Form 4 Cambridge-Zimbabwe Secondary certificate preparatory class, the fact that Hatfield Elite School is no ordinary school begins to amplify itself.
While the Form 4 class is getting ready for language arts, the Form 6 class is preparing for STEM, chemistry, physics and biology.
Today is Patron’s Day. The patron is Professor Kenneth Mufuka from Lander University in the US.
The patron has been chosen carefully by the school board in order to advertise the school’s ambition to achieve its dream.
In their proposition, the founders of the elite school wanted to grasp the essence and passion that had driven its founders to success.
The idea is not new. It has been tried in the US by Catholics and Quakers.
Scholars at an elite school are brought up from pre-school to believe that they are super-kids and, as such, supported by a religious background, they can climb to greater heights if they devote time and passion to whatever they want to achieve.
They are told that super-kids do not do stupid things.
As such, they are self-regulating and incidents of misbehaviour are few and far between.
Super-kids debate how many merits each will achieve in coming examinations. The possibility of failure is never discussed.
Super-kids are known for their behaviour, their positive attitude towards life, their top grades in examinations.
The teachers at this school have been carefully chosen to create a sense of fraternity.
Kawanzaruwa passed away six years ago, but wherever he is, he will be pleased that a team has emerged with a passion to a belief that education, coupled with some religious sensibility, spells responsibility.
The school used the Covid-19-induced closure to rehabilitate all its buildings.
The year 2021 will be used as a trial run, to test all the ideas of creating super-kids and measuring their academic results.
A moral purpose is the foundation for a great school.
A “dream team” of teachers is an indispensable part of that equation.
A supportive school board and parents’ association are already in place.
The elite school is enrolling. The journey to reach the stars has already begun.
The school can be reached at www.heacademy.co.zw. Due to Covid-19 regulations, enrolment will continue throughout the remaining year.
- Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. His latest book is: The Life and Times of Robert Mugabe: Dream Betrayed, distributed by Innov Bookshops in Zimbabwe and kenmufukaboks.com internationally.