- Ray Bande Senior Reporter
WHAT is happening at St Augustine’s? What exactly is happening on this quiet rather forlorn sacred hilltop known for more than a century for nurturing academic giants and some of the country’s finest brains in the country? You can think of politics, economics, law, religion; each of these aspects of Zimbabwean life had its share of heroes and heroines made here…and many more.
St Augustine’s-Tsambe is in Manicaland Province. The province is proud of its history and contribution in the protraction of the war that liberated Zimbabwe from chains of colonial slavery. Many sons and daughters of the soil from Manicaland fell, indeed like many others in other parts of the country.
From every inch of Manicaland soil emerges a fascinating story to tell about the courageous sacrifices illustrated by the war veterans who fought an ugly and fierce war to liberate our motherland.
One such intriguing story is the story of a young, selfless, gallant and heroic freedom fighter, one Tendai Pfepferere (TP) who was killed in cold blood at the foyer of St Augustine’s classroom blocks during the war on 5 August, 1979. The Manica Post correspondent and Education guest columnist Morris Mtisi is known to have meticulously researched and written widely on the drama that led to the cold murder of this hero who chose to die so that students and teachers would live. It is known that MM has written about this great story of heroic self-sacrifice more than anybody else.
The whole tragic drama of Tendai Pfepferere’s selfless sacrifice and unusual bravery is captured in the film script written by the teacher-author-researcher, now radio presenter-Diamond FM and education journo with The Manica Post, our own Morris Mtisi.
The Manica Post current affairs crew currently caught up with MM, founder and executive director of CrossRoads Africa Trust (CAT) and asked him, “What exactly is going on at St Augustine’s Mission?”
“The story of Tendai Pfepferere will never escape my mind. He is a microcosmic representation of all who died because they hated what was wrong and chose to take up arms to fight the enemy and free the motherland. The intrepid TP did the undone to die in a war situation where he could have easily used students as human shield to fight back and escape the wrath of the enemy,” Mtisi narrated with remarkable eloquence, certainly with a visible sense of angry admiration.
- “For many years, I as founder of CrossRoads Africa Trust tried in vain to shoot a film on this brave incident of unparalleled self-sacrifice. Owing to various reasons, major among them being unavailability of money to fund a project of this magnitude, this was not possible.
“We now have prospective funders and investors in this project. They will enable us to rekindle this wonderful film project which conjures up both provincial and national pride,” said Mtisi. “Remember La Fontaine who said, “Patience and delay achieve more than force and rage.”
Mtisi said that the grand project to be headquartered at St Augustine’s comprises several fascinating projects within the project. Central to all these associated projects is the construction of a memorial college on the mission farmland.
“We want to thank the Bishop of the Manicaland Anglican Diocese, Lord Bishop Erick Ruwona who as part of the Diocese’s support and gesture of partnership allowed CrossRoads Africa Trust utilisation of land between 30 and 40 hectares on which to construct the memorial college. It will not be an academic college.
“We want to put up a skills development college that will train youths, first and foremost from Anglican schools, to pursue interest careers in music, including song-writing, instruments playing, composing and producing songs, film script writing, film production and directing, on-stage (drama) and film acting,” said Mr Mtisi.
“All youths that are tired of being throttled into university education but wish to pursue other interests and gifts to make money and livelihood, here is an opportunity to tap talent into career. We garrotte our children and push them into universities…and then what? Universities don’t make jobs, do they? Those who don’t wish to go university or indeed fail to, here is an opportunity for you to listen to your hearts and follow your talents. Those without (natural talents) will be trained…no big deal,” he said.
“First preference shall be given to our Girls of Substance in the schools…that refers to girl learners who are members of the Girls of Substance Movement which was launched in September 2018 at Tsambe. This is one of the projects within the project that addresses moral rearmament amongst girls in high schools, colleges and universities. There is no better time to run serious behaviour change programmes in these educational institutions than now, is there?
“We wish to take this opportunity to thank the Anglican Diocesan office, courtesy of the Lord Bishop who instantly saw and shared our vision and pledged all the support we needed in this dream and venture.
He quickly facilitated that we get convenient accommodation and offices at St Augustine’s.
“Our secretariat will begin day-to-day office work at our offices at Tsambe as soon as examinations are over early December. We thank the school head Reverend Sydney Chirombe, Deputy head, Mr Makamba, senior teachers Mai S. Musanhu and Mr Jonathan Chirima as well as relevant staff for supporting the Bishop to support us on this noble project.”
“The institutional memorial college shall be in honour of two heroes connected to St Augustine’s history: Tendai Pfepferere and Father Richard Hugh Kebble Prosser: The college shall be called Father Prosser Memorial College.
Its departments of Heritage Studies and to be concentrating focus on chronicling war liberation stories and recording them through film, books and documentaries shall be dedicated to Tendai and named after him.
“There shall be other project faculties like Ubunthu /Hunhu and Intuitive Guidance and Counselling in which the guided and counselled(also the problem maker) is part of the solution, all zeroing in on inculcating substance and values in school girls (Ref. Girls of Substance Movement.)”
“We cannot end this enlightenment to the public without saying the following:” said Mr Mtisi.
“We are aware people within the church or around the Anglican Church may want to ask questions about who is doing what, how, why … as part of their own curiosity, anxiety or instinctive agenda to throw mud into our water.
‘‘Crossroads Africa Trust does not want or intend to be embroiled in church politics at whatever level. We come in faithfully and simply to honour two heroes the history of St Augustine’s cannot be written or remembered without; Father Prosser and Tendai Pfepferere.
“ Our objectives are clear. Our mission and vision are clear.
‘‘Anybody who wants to add value to our mission and vision is welcome to do so. People who wish to fight over our heads are not welcome. Nothing can be simpler…nothing can be easier to say. The Bishop did not give us land. He did not sell us land. He did not lease land to us.
“He simply allowed us to build a college on mission farm to carry out a plethora of exciting projects and programmes that will not only celebrate the selfless sacrifices of the late Father Prosser and Cde Tendai Pfepferere, but benefit students, teachers, the Anglican Church, Manicaland as a province and the entire nation of Zimbabwe…not forgetting the tens of hundreds of jobless people who will be hired and employed to put up the institutional memorial college and campus.
‘‘We pray for the hand of God, not man’s hand, in every bit of this effort…every mile of the journey.”