Nathan Shamuyarira – Obituary

via Nathan Shamuyarira – Obituary Zimbabwe Situation Facebook June 9, 2014

My passport’s place of birth entry has always raised curious questions as to how a Hove-fathered and Nkomo-mothered child could have been born in Marondera in 1942.  My simple explanation has been that I was born at Waddilove Institute were my father M.M. Hove taught at the time.  He was a teacher, along with the late illustrious Nationalist Josiah Chinamano, at that famous Methodist Mission school and their students included the current National Hero Dr Nathan Shamuyarira.

Among the other students at the time were the late first permanent secretary for what was in 1980 the novel Gender Ministry, Ms Angeline Makwavarara, as well as Dr Donaldson Sadza, Ms Esnath Mapondera, Ms Evelyn Shava and others.  These school friends of Dr Shamuyarira and he spoke of their teachers in superlatives. That made us the teachers’ children feel good over the years.

My parents both, throughout their well-lived long lives, spoke highly of the students of Waddilove during their time, with many of them like Nathan going on to distinguish themselves in different professions to our parents’ delight and pride.

The one that maintained the closest link when we first moved from then Salisbury to Bulawayo in 1950 was Dr Shamuyarira whom they fondly and proudly introduced to their new circle in Luveve as Nathan.  They would refer to him as one of the most promising young men of their time at Waddilove Institute.  To me he was in those days Uncle Nathan.

Nathan eventually joined the media to my Dad’s delight.  Dad was the Editor of the Bantu Mirror in the Bulawayo office, our reason for moving to Bulawayo, while Nathan later became editor of the Daily News.

For each of his visits to Bulawayo Uncle Nathan would see his baby daughter, affectionately known to us as ‘Keke’ who was part of the close knit family network we found ourselves enveloped in and protected by.  Keke became my sister Busisiwe’s friend.  Her full name is Kekelami (my cake) to family.  To the rest she is known as Constance.

After completing secondary school fifty years ago this year I went to Australia for my studies.  It was from Australia that I met up again with the now Doctor Nathan Shamuyarira in Dar es Salaam.  That was on the occasion of my husband and I attending the 1974 Saba Saba (20th anniversary of the founding of Chama Chama Mapinduzi, the ruling party at the time) as state visitors of the Tanzanian Government.  On that occasion the Tanzanian government invited Anti-Apartheid support groups from around the world, coinciding with the Fifth Pan African Congress. We attended as representatives of Australian Liberation support groups to be introduced to the Liberation Centre there, where the then Colonel Mbita coordinated the activities and support of the Liberation Movements in accordance with the policies of the Organisation of African Union.

A distinguished scholar at the University of Dar Es Salaam, Dr Shamuyarira and his wife (who to us was Auntie Dora) welcomed us into their home.  Auntie Dora was working in her nursing profession at Dar Es Salaam Hospital.  With her ever welcoming smile we spent happy hours with them as they explained some of the important aspects of our political constellation in the regional context.  We were fortunate to have been exposed to their insight and advice.

We met Dr Shamuyarira again at home in 1981 after Independence when we decided to return to live in Zimbabwe.  In the pursuit of work I found myself in his office seeking ways in which I might be gainfully employed.

Nathan asked me what I wanted to do.  My first choice was to be involved with media training, as that is what I had studied in Australia.  He contacted his permanent secretary Edward Moyo and before the day was over I was assigned to the new Zimbabwe Institute of Mass Communications (ZIMCO) where Mr Ezekiel Makunike was the newly appointed Director.

Under the careful policy guidance offered by Dr Nathan Shamuyarira as Minister of Information and Tourism 1980 – 87, I worked at ZIMCO for the first seven years of its life as a founding staff member.

Under the clear visionary leadership of Dr Shamuyarira, the Mass Media Trust was developed into the parent body which nurtured a number of media structures to service an integrated media sector.   These included the creation of ZIANA, the news agency of a post independence Zimbabwe.

Furthermore, the Mass Media Trust purchased various titles including the Rhodesia Herald and created Zimpapers Limited incorporating into the first board the expert skills of Mrs Grace Todd, a pioneer in African education in the 1940s.  This was made possible with support from Nigeria through UNESCO.

Dr Shamuyarira, through UNESCO, brought in Alex Quarmyne who was an eminent media technocrat from the Kwame Nkrumah days to give technical support that enabled us to get started at ZIMCO.  Its focus was on producing media personnel for the new world information and communication order.

Dr Shamuyarira readily gave his approval to suggestions to enhance the media sector, including the launch of the Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe (FAMWZ) at a UNESCO supported workshop that I was assigned as a ZIMCO staffer to organise in 1982.

The broadcasting service was reorganised to introduce four stations. He  facilitated the re-introduction of the Radio Listening Clubs in association with Radio 4.  These clubs were for the purpose of empowering women in rural areas through skills training, and were a continuation of the Radio Homecraft Clubs that my mother established in the Matebeleland region in the 1950s.

Under his watchful eye we at ZIMCO developed civil society linkages to promote rural development during the time of the UNESCO New World Information Order and the ongoing New World Economic Order. In the first seven years of its founding in 1981 we produced some of our best media practitioners.  Many are still prominent in our local, regional and international media.

When Dr Shamuyarira was moved from the Information Ministry in 1987 I left ZIMCO and went to live and work in Bulawayo on an exciting new Integrated Rural Water and Sanitation Programme in Matebeleland South province our Mum’s home, an initiative of the Ministry for Water which had set up a small Rural Water and Sanitation unit in which my husband an engineer was at work. This was funded by the EEC (forerunner of the EU).  The programme provided some much needed development infrastructure.

From then on we bumped into Uncle Nathan each time I visited Harare to get updates on his work until his retirement. We would meet at functions and always enjoyed updates on what our families were doing. He was always up to the mark with what Keke was doing wherever she was.

Dr Shamuyarira was a man of his time.  He lived his life to the fullest in a country with a complex political trajectory in which he played his part as best he could. He was a humble and gentle person with a smile on his face for me and those around him, and with a keen sense of humour on topical matters.

He was a family man who loved and cherished his wife Auntie Dora. To us he was a model husband and also a model Dad and Grand Dad who loved his daughter Kekelami and ensured she received the necessities to prepare her for a full life of her own.  She lived up to his expectations in that regard graduating as a medical doctor and working in that sector in her home in Bermuda where she has raised her family and has kept close links with her family in Zimbabwe.

I spoke by phone with Keke at her home in Bermuda, where she had just returned from Zimbabwe on the eve of her dad’s departure.  She concluded that it was God’s will that she was unable to return home to attend his funeral.

At one am on Saturday morning Bangani Xaba, Keke’s nephew advised us that  Dr Nathan Shamuyarira’s grandson, his namesake, Mpumelelo Nathan Richards, his cousin had arrived at Harare International airport to attend his grandfather’s funeral at the National Heroes Acre.  I could not help but relive beautiful memories of those parts of his life which gave us such joy.

On behalf of my late parents who loved Nathan and taught us that we should always look at the best qualities of all those around us, may I conclude by reminding us all that in our African cultures in Zimbabwe, death is a time which is meant to bring us together as families, friends, communities and societies.

The Shonas say: Wafa Wanaka.

Translated into isiNdebele: Kasihlonipheni abaphansi. In English: Let us not speak ill of those that have passed on.

This is a reminder to those of us who remain behind that we must pick the best lessons from the lives of those that die; to build a better world for all.

Rest in Peace Uncle Nathan!

Hamba ngokuthula Baba Shamuyarira!

Fambai murunyararo Baba Shamuyarira!

Senator Sekai M Holland MP. 

Harare 7 June 2014



  • comment-avatar
    Wethu 8 years ago

    So he had a daughter who is a medical doctor in Bermuda yet he died poor, with his wife not affording a taxi fare to visit her terminally ill husband. And the same daughter couldn’t come to her father’s funeral. This is absurd!

    • comment-avatar
      Tjingababili 8 years ago


      • comment-avatar
        Wethu 8 years ago

        That’s not an excuse for neglecting your biological father, especially for us Africans.

      • comment-avatar
        Nawana 8 years ago

        Dora is not her mother, but stepmother. Dora never had children of her own

  • comment-avatar
    Bambazonke 8 years ago

    And he stole a farm that produced fruit for export and employed over a 100 people !!!! Poor

  • comment-avatar
    Ruramai 8 years ago

    Senator Holland, r u aware your uncle celebrated gukurahundi?

    Can you enlighten us on why Keke didn’t look after her parents?

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    He was a dull deadbeat. Everything he touched turned into manure. The old is a better place with him gone.

  • comment-avatar
    Former Zimbo 8 years ago

    Someone forgot to mention he was also a CT…………..

  • comment-avatar
    Jonah 8 years ago

    The “Died penniless” is full of hyperbolic exaggeration. She paid his Zesa and water bills but it was not upon her to repair Harare’s potholes.
    Keke looked after her father, his relatives looted his wealth after he had a stroke. His money was wiped out by Gono’s hyper inflation.
    He never had a farm, it was hangers on who used his name, he was incapacitate by the stroke by then.
    Keke returned to Bermuda to be with her daughter Kethiwe who was due las week. She sent her son Mpumelelo and Bangani Xaba to represent her together many other relatives. Nathan was already on life support by then.

    Many in Shamuyarira clan had a perception that she was a outsider.

  • comment-avatar
    Johnny k 8 years ago

    I question the sanity of Sekai Holland. To say that Samuyarira was a gentle and humble person is a complete fabrication. I wonder whether Angela Campbell and Ben & Laura Freeth consider this ZANU kleptocrat a Gentle and Humble person. He stole Mount Carmel from the late Mike Campbell and was responsible for the beating and attempted murder of Mike, Angela and Ben when they refused to move off their farm. Nathan Shamuyarirs was nothing but a savage opportunist theif who will not be missed by anyone, He set up the opressive and slavishly one sided media that we are still forced to watch, read and listen to 20 years after he left the Information ministry. I say good riddance, I am sure that Lucifer will welcome him and his boss when he also passes.

    • comment-avatar
      Nawana 8 years ago

      Nathan was not involve in the farm saga, it was his relatives who used his name, he was bedridden and incapable of any cognitive, Keke actually took him to physio in SA where he learned to walk

  • comment-avatar
    Turdson Minor 8 years ago

    Keke, I would stick to Bermuda if I were you. Very wise.

  • comment-avatar
    Zvomukonde 8 years ago

    Uncle Nathan vafa maiweeeee…. -1 i say

  • comment-avatar
    Straight Shooter 8 years ago


    Nathan Shamuyarira: author of the 1979 Grand Plan Document?
    by Mncumbatha
    06 June 2014

    The death of one Nathan Shamuyarira marks a turning point in the history of Zimbabwe’s political dynamics. It is a well known fact that Shamuyarira was a polarizing and toxic figure within the Zim political landscape. Political eyebrows in certain parts of the country, particularly in Matebeleland would have been raised by the news of his sudden death pursuant to what is believed to have been a very long ailment.

    One would recall that Shamuyarira was widely believed, and, alleged to be the author of the toxic and dangerous so-called 1979 Grand Plan document that formally provided a blueprint for the subsequent golgothisation of Matebeleland, the scorched earth policy and the Gukurahundi campaign applied by the Zanu-Pf government in Matebeleland that decimated in excess of 20 000 God-fearing and defenceless villagers.

    The question which arises of course is what is the source of such outrageous claims? Fortunately the answer is to be found in the subsequent document called: “Progress Review of the 1979 Grand Plan Document”. The authors inadvertently let the cat out of the proverbial bag by asserting that:

    “We must not forget what Nathan Shamuyarira once observed in the 1979 Grand Plan “The only way to weaken the Ndebele is to deprive him of an education”.

    There you have it. The above quotation is an extract from the review document and it is quoting what Shamuyarira is alleged to have said in the 1979 original document. Curiously, it is significant that when this review document came out, the Zanu-Pf government never really made an effort to get to the bottom of its origin other than a cursory dismissal of it which was issued through none other than Nathan Shamuyarira where he made reference to the fact that president Mugabe has Ndebele relatives within his family since his father was married to a MaTshuma from from Matebeleland. It is significant that he Shamuyarira did not unequivocally and unambiguously deny or refute ever writing the 1979 Grand Plan Document.

  • comment-avatar
    Straight Shooter 8 years ago

    Wena Holland. You are also on record for tribally insulting uMthwakazi. We dont forget that easily, remember?

  • comment-avatar
    Bloody agent 8 years ago

    Good riddance – I am happy that he is dead.

  • comment-avatar
    murungu 8 years ago

    A great man passed away,a friend who helped the family and greatly admired by all of us . I quote now from his book “Crisis in Rhodesia” which he dedicated to his late father,Quote:” He,like so many of his generation in Rhodesia,struggled to educate his children in the hope that they would lead a fuller life than his own,least realizing that the glittering white men’s world had more cruelty and hazards than any he had known in his open fields and airy round huts in traditional Africa.”Unquote. Rest in piece Nathan,we will always honour you.