Veteran educationist Bvumbe’s stellar career

‘Focus on your studies, desist from taking drugs.Work hard!’

By John Masuku

Retiring from the education system in December 2021 at the helm of Eaglesvale Preparatory School in Harare, Mr Michael Bvumbe strongly feels that different political, educational and institutional epochs appropriately define his nearly five decades journey as a class teacher, sportsmaster and headmaster.

The coming of Independence in 1980, relocation from the township Group B to former group A suburban schools and transfers to  different private institutions dominated my conversation with Bvumbe who for a brief period was also the founding headmaster of  privately-owned Masaisai Primary School in Westgate in the capital.

Last week at the Association of Trust Schools annual conference in Victoria Falls the ever- immaculately dressed educator  was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in recognition of his outstanding contribution to education

“Cast your shadows wide, leave your comfort zones, desist from taking drugs, work hard and set realistic goals as you passionately pursue your studies” were Bvumbe’s words of advice to all learners as he reflected on the long road he has travelled in the teaching field.

“After completing training at St Paul’s Musami Teachers College in Murehwa I started my teaching career in 1974 at Tendai Primary School in Mufakose.

Although I was an all rounder I loved teaching Mathematics and my learners enjoyed and excelled in the subject” recalled Bvumbe who was first transferred to  a predominantly white Avondale Primary School a few years after Zimbabwe attained its Independence .

“The population of white learners and teachers was still quite significant.Subtle racial discrimination was visibly prevalent countrywide. A lot of  white parents were still unsettled even though the new black government led by then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe had pronounced a policy of reconciliation. I remember being briefly posted to a companion school where upon seeing me through a French door, seated in a classroom some learners retreated, not sure if they were not lost since they were only used to white teachers. It took a lot of counselling and explanation by school authorities for learners and some parents to understand that things were changing in the whole country” explained Bvumbe who,back at Avondale taught prominent lawyer and prolific writer Nottingham,UK-based Alex Magaisa who once became adviser to former inclusive government Prime Minister, late Morgan  Tsvangirai.

” I am proud of what Alex has achieved as a lawyer and scholar and all his weekly articles about critical national issues. He was one of my favourite learners in class and on the sportsfield as our No.10 football star” Infact success in sporting events greatly sustained me in those transformative times as it always boosted my relevance.

In giving Education 5.0 a nod Bvumbe is grateful that the education system has expanded tremendously but feels that its quality should be upgraded right across the board.He also believes that  good education is a result of teamwork among school authorities, learners and  parents

“I always scoff at parents who do not participate in sporting,cultural and educational events when invited. They also refuse to be nominated into committees and associations. Some even pay fees and levies forcibly yet they expect the school to prosper and even brag about it. I like it at most private schools because they have effective ways of moulding responsible, accountable  parents who attend  their children’s school events to  motivate them in their learning”

Amid fears that it would be impossible to last long at private schools Bvumbe tried his luck and got a teaching place at the Jewish-run Sharon School in  Milton Park.

“It was an eye opening experience to be at Sharon. I learnt a lot about Jewish culture during our open festivals. On such special days I also wore the ‘kippah’, their head dress and got to know most of their favourite dishes and traditions which I had a faint idea of  from my Anglican Christian background.”  recalled Bvumbe who is a devout worshipper at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Mabelreign where he has served as a churchwarden and chairperson of various guilds including the couples group which he led for many years with his affable wife Lucy whom he met during teacher training at St Pauls Musami.

Both  later advanced their teaching qualifications, with Bvumbe graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree at the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU)  majoring in educational administration  planning and policy.

“I was in my final year when the new intake came with a smashingly beautiful young lady named Lucy Makanza.I straight away told myself ‘that’s my lifetime sweetheart’. We fell for each other and later travelled together on the chalk- pushing career.She retired earlier on from Twin Rivers school in Avondale. Although we still render educational advice privately we are also very active at our church in Mabelreign despite having relocated to Mount Pleasant a few years ago.We arrive in time for all services and we dont miss guild meetings.”

In the 1990s, as youth advisers Michael and Lucy were selected by the Anglican Diocese of Harare to visit the companion Diocese of Rochester parishes in the United Kingdom.

” That connection remained in place forever as we  kept contact with families who hosted us then by always checking on those still alive whenever we visit our children and relatives in England.Thanks John for helping me to get my very first passport within a day by referring me to retired Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede whom you used to host on your radio programmes”

Born in 1953 in Mbare township  Bvumbe did his primary education at Chitsere and moved to St Peters Glover for secondary schooling.Young Michael loved playing football at Stodart Hall  and also enjoyed  Boy Scouts activities and acting at  St Michaels Anglican Church near his Daniel Street family home where he attended Sunday school under the tutorship of  the Runyararo Sisters led by late Sister Barbara Tredgold.

As parents of Janet, Jean and Tapiwa Michael Junior, Michael and Lucy Bvumbe have four grandchildren who occassionally entertain them during their retirement.

The writer, John Masuku is a radio and television broadcast  journalist , media consultant and trainer. Contact him on Twitter @john_masuku or Email: jjwpmasuku55@gmail.com

Sunday Mail/ Radio VOP