We arrived in Masvingo Diocese and were warmly greeted by Bishop Godfrey and his wife Albertina and by many of the people with whom we were to meet during our brief visit. There were the six Archdeacons of the Diocese (except not all of them had quite made it at that stage because of the roads) and the ordinands who are taught day by day at the Cathedral as well as those who worked around the Cathedral.
We had come now to expect that the tables and chairs would be draped in white shiny material and coloured bows and this was no exception as the hall was all draped in cloth and yellow sashes. It makes ordinary garden chairs look much more interesting and brings colour and life to the room.
It is quite an amazing sight to see this wherever we went.
But at this first meal in Masvingo I was even more surprised to see a full tea service in fine white china with the MU logo on it. I thought it would be a fun thing to have back in the Bishop’s office at home and also how much it continues to tell us about the importance of the MU in the life of the Dioceses in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa.
During our stay in Masvingo we were pleased to be able to visit the Daramombe Mission, which, like other Mission stations, is a lot more than just a school. It isn’t often that one gets met by drum majorettes who have been standing in the sun waiting for you and who then lead you into the place you are about to visit. Well that’s what happened when the Bishop, Dean and Archdeacon of Southwark and I arrived at Daramombe Mission. It was quite amazing to see the lines of young women waiting and then marching in front of us with their batons and leading us in. They waited in line – heads down at every place we visited – except during the school assembly of which they were a part. We marvelled at their ability to be so still for so long in the sun!
Daramombe is an amazing school. It is large and residential for most pupils and the grounds and classrooms are well kept and clean. But, the school is not content with where they are and is busy building new classrooms and living areas which we were able to see. There is to be a new space for computers and new and fully equipped rooms for different teaching subjects. These are sturdily and well built and are nearing completion.
Schools such as Daramombe are so important in Zimbabwe because here future generations of leaders are educated and learn how to be leaders for the future. Many of them go off to university and many of these are abroad and it is always hard to know whether those who have left will return in order to help make the future of their country, or whether they will choose to stay out of the country where life is definitely likely to be easier. We spoke to students whose hopes were high but few of them talked of further education in Zimbabwe and this is a cause of real anxiety because where will the leaders of the future come from if those who can achieve university places leave and do not return.
As we were led into the school we went into an assembly. Sadly, as ever, we were a little late and the students had been waiting a long time. The hall is huge and was very full and hot but the students had waited patiently for us and stood as we arrived.
Introductions followed and then the choir sang.
They were absolutely amazing and were led by Fr Fungayi Nyandoro. The Bishop and I had met him at the Shearley Cripps festival in 2015 when he was newly returned to Zimbabwe from South Africa and then he had been at St George’s Jerusalem with the Dean and I. He is a truly inspirational character. What we had not known when we met him in Jerusalem was that he is a brilliant musician as the choir’s performance showed. He is also a wonderful advert for the religious life as he is so full of fun and energy and faith. He is Chaplain to the school as well as the rector of the parish in which the school stands and the Vicar General.
Daramombe had been occupied by those aligned to the deposed Bishop Nolbert Kunogna and, as with other places in Zimbabwe, the are differences to be healed still but this Mission station provides so much for the pupils who study there and for the people around it that there is little doubt that such things will be overcome to ensure the best for all those in the area.
Food security is important here too and so the Diocese makes sure that the food necessary can be provided and helps the parish as well as the school to be able to grow and rear enough or to be supplied with enough that the students and teachers can have sufficient to be able to learn and teach properly. Many see a good education as the way forward and without a doubt Daramombe Mission tries to provide that for the children in its care.
But, it is not just DARAMOMBE. There are 6 Secondary Schools, 1 High School and 8 Primary schools located in the various Districts and Provinces within the Diocese of Masvingo. The Education departments sees its vision in words expressed in Provers 22:6 – ‘Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.’
Having seen some of the other schools here in Masvingo and and others around the Dioceses few can doubt that they work very hard to ensure that their students get the best of possible starts.
That’s partly why food is so important and why the Diocese of Masvingo has, with the help of its Link, Southwark Cathedral, provided food programmes in lots of their schools to ensure that the children have eaten enough to both get to school and to learn. There will be more about that on our next blog on Wednesday.