November 24, 2023

Scores bid Prof Bhebhe farewell at MSU

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Scores bid Prof Bhebhe farewell at MSU

Freedom Mupanedemo-Midlands Bureau

SCORES of mourners from all corners of the Midlands Province yesterday thronged the Midlands State University (MSU) chapel to bid farewell to the founding Vice Chancellor, Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe.

Prof Bhebhe died last Friday at the age of 81 and President Mnangagwa declared him a national hero.

Mourners who included academics, politicians, friends, and relatives packed the chapel to pay tribute to a distinguished academic.

Yesterday’s memorial service was the last in the province for the national hero who will be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre tomorrow.

Leading the mourners was the Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Owen Ncube.

Speakers reflected on the long academic journey that Prof Bhebhe walked.

His daughter, Evelyn Bhebhe said his father left a rich academic legacy.

“When I heard of the sad news of the passing on of my father, I reflected and asked myself what sort of wealth I could hold on to and say this is the legacy that my father has left for me. I then realised that my father left me academic wealth, a huge legacy to preserve,” she said.

Mr Mhanqwa Ncube of Mberengwa who went to school with Prof Bhebhe from Standard One to Six described the national hero as a man of the people.

“He was a man of the people, he was an orator, a story teller even during our hey days and no doubt he was one of the most respected historians of our time. We are saddened by his demise,” he said.

President Mnangagwa declared Prof Bhebhe who died last week a national hero in recognition of his outstanding role as an academic, teacher and committed nationalist.

On Wednesday, Prof Bhebe’s body was taken to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) in Gweru Central Business District for a church service before it was taken to his Tshulu Farm in Chiwundura.

Prof Bhebhe remained an ardent member of the ELCZ church and was a senior member of Gweru central parish.

His young brother Dr Philip Bhebhe said his brother had told the family that his desire was to be buried next to his late mother in Chiwundura hence the decision to take the body where his mother is buried on Wednesday.

Born in Mberengwa on August 15, 1942, Prof Bhebe was a distinguished scholar who obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Geography from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in 1967.

He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Imperial History from the University of London in 1972.

A historian par excellence, Prof Bhebhe’s academic employment dates back to 1974 when he lectured in history at Faurah Bay College in Sierra Leone and later at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland as well as at the University of Zimbabwe from 1982.

He served as a Professor of History at the University of Zimbabwe from 1988 to 1999 and also as an external examiner at the universities of Botswana, Malawi and Zambia.

Prof Bhebhe was a researcher who published several books as well as articles in internationally refereed journals.

In this area, he received numerous academic honours and awards. Prof Bhebhe also presented papers at international conferences.

With regards to administrative experiences, Prof Bhebhe was a seasoned university administrator who went through the mill, serving as chairperson of the University of Zimbabwe’s History Department from 1989 to 1992 as well as of the Research Board from 1984 to 1991.

He also served as Senior Proctor and ultimately Pro Vice Chancellor of the same university from 1992 to 1995.

In 1999, Prof Bhebhe was appointed the first Vice Chancellor of MSU, an institution, which has risen to dizzy heights under his leadership.


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