Karoi traditionalist Friday Chisanyu Kabende remembered

By Nhau Mangirazi

The death of late traditional doctor Friday Chisanyu on Tuesday last week was overshadowed by the deaths of late minister Rtd Lt Gen Sibusiso B Moyo, Rtd Maj Gen Paradzai Zimondi and transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza declared national heroes.

It was a painful loss for those who knew him as Chisanyu rose from humble beginnings in traditional medicines to be an international voice of repute.

Chisanyu passed on in Harare due to diabetes.

COVID 19 restrictions saw his body accompanied by family members to his rural home, buried by a handful of mourners without even members of the press.

He had vision of how traditionalists could be part of solution to our ailing health sector.

Chisanyu well-known as Kabende from his rural flock under Chief Chundu had made his impact locally, nationally and internationally through his traditional healing acumen.

He dropped out of school in 1980 when he was in Grade Four as the ‘svikiro’ wanted him to get into serious business as a n’anga,

I knew him around mid-1980s during school holidays when I visited my rural area in Mayamba under Chief Chundu as his homestead is near Chitindiva business center.

A rural village boy then, he was a household name in traditional meeting’s August annually.

As a young n’anga he had his own influence among villagers around Chitindiva and Mahwau areas.

In 1994, I met while researching on a story of Chimombe- Chundu Godfather, a golden stick that aides the reigning chief but was kept by mhondoros.

Chimombe had disappeared from where he was kept following the controversial Chief Butau Chundu succeeded late Chief Noah Chundu a parliamentarian then took the Godfather by force.

Chimombe’s residence was not accessible by the youths and the reigning chief, but Butau broke the rules and took Chimombe to his homestead in Kabidza.

It was my first radio assignment for a broadcasting story when I was contributing to then ZBC Radio 2 under the program Nhau Dzematunhu produced by late Joseph Panganayi Mukaronda.

Chisanyu linked me with elders who gave credible evidence of the whole saga before I confronted the Chief Bereu Chundu who was a hardline Christian under Jehovah’s Witness.

It was a tough assignment but I managed to do a series of stories around Hurungwe.

Few years later, Chisanyu came to Karoi and set up his rooms as a traditional healer

He had a family backyard garage in Chikangwe high density with his brothers and uncles were the mechanics.

His work was test driving and he had a Ford car of his own.

He later bought a Hyundai and his name became familiar as a traditional healer.

From 1998 to 2000 Chisanyu was appointed by late Professor Gordon  Chavhunduka who led Zinbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) as organizing secretary and national secretary for special events.

Chisanyu later broke away from Zinatha to be founding president of Zimbabwe National Practioners Association (ZINPA),

Around 2018, I got a surprise call from Kwayedza news editor Kingstone Mapupu who wanted me to accompany him to Chundu for coverage where Chisanyu was guest of honor as a prize giving day at Chitindiva secondary school. He was the patron of the school for decades.

These are not type of stories that am used to do but Mapupu convinced me.

I was shocked, when we arrived at the school, few minutes before the event, the meeting was well organized and there were several cars accompanying Chisanyu who was in a Toyota Land cruiser, chauffer driven.

After the event I asked him if he was still a real n’anga that was raised from the dusty roads of Chtindiva.

He confided that his brainchild ZINPA had senior former government officials including a retired judge, assistant commissioner among others.

For him, he had made it and his organization had been accepted by the Government.

Besides that, he had made educational strides after graduating at University of Zimbabwe under Traditional Medicine. He was mentioned for his best project award. He was trained under Traditional Medicine and later went to train at Ministry of AYUSH- Government of India.

He was also member of African Union Traditional Medicine forum among other international organizations and a board member of ministry of health and child care  

ZINPA has  international market where some patients have been treated from abroad.

He used to say, “.A lot of patients remain confused over wrong information on traditional and modern medicine. On the reality, traditional medicine is wider and comprehensive,’

He called on sharing of accurate information to help out on the confusion among patients that was a burden will be reduced.

‘We are working on grassroots registration and regulations so that our members work within the confines of the country’s laws,’ 

Go well Mhofu. You made your own name on our behalf. Like the late academic, businessman and politician Ariston Chambati, musicians Admire Kasenga, Biggie Tembo (Mhosva Natasha), Prince Tendai Mupfurutsa among several unsung heroes you remain part of social development who left their own footprints.