Dadaya Mission: Home of political consciousness Dadaya High School

Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
TUCKED away in the countryside on a terrain of undulating gently sloped low hills and narrow ridges of the Great Dyke, about 20km west of Zvishavane in the Midlands Province, Dadaya Mission is home to nationalism and political consciousness.

Founded in 1934 by Sir Garfield Todd and his wife, Grace Todd upon their arrival in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), from New Zealand in 1934, the Church of Christ-owned institution is one of the many mission schools that contributed to the development of African education.

Sir Garfield Todd

It also produced a number of luminaries, playing a major role in nationalistic politics as some of the country’s founding fathers passed through Dadaya Mission.

Heroes of the liberation struggle include Cde Ndabaningi Sithole, the late former Cabinet Ministers Richard Hove, Cephas Msipa and Dr David Karimanzira, the late veteran academic, nationalist and former Zimbabwean Ambassador to Germany, Professor George Kahari among others.

The mission is situated on a piece of land measuring 500-hectares, which Sir Todd donated to the church.

Born in Invercargill, Sir Todd arrived in the country as a missionary in 1934, naming the ranch in Zvishavane where he lived “Hokonui” after a range of hills in Southland New Zealand.

The Late Ndabaningi Sithole

At one-time the late former President, Cde Robert Mugabe was a teacher at Dadaya Mission school when Sir Todd was the principal. After graduating from Kutama’s St Francis Xavier College in 1945, Cde Mugabe taught at the school where he met Cde Sithole.

Sir Todd ran Dadaya Mission and helped build clinics and schools, among them a teaching school for blacks where many of Zimbabwe’s future leaders were educated.

In 1956, during his stint as Prime Minister, Sir Todd introduced a five-year plan to increase African education.
He saw the establishment of the Native Education Advisory Board, the introduction of the Unified Teaching Service and a teacher’s pension scheme.

The late former President Robert Mugabe

In the 1960s, Sir Todd joined forces with black nationalists who were against the Smith regime. He was repeatedly placed under house arrest as a result.

The chairperson of the Dadaya Governing Board, Cde Obert Matshalaga, who is also a former student at the school, said the school was a haven for political consciousness during the colonial era.

Cde Matshalaga said Dadaya Mission produced some of the best leaders in the country before and after independence.

“Before independence, it produced the country’s first Ambassador to Nigeria, the late Kingsley Dube. We also had a crop of ex-Dadaya Mission students who later became ministers, notably the famous late Cephas Msipa, the Mumbengegwi brothers, Samuel and Simbarashe,” he said.

Mr Obert Matshalaga and Dadaya High School chaplain Elton Ncube inspect Garfield Todd’s grave at the institute in Zvishavane

“We had people like Dr David Karimanzira, veteran academic, nationalist and former Zimbabwean Ambassador to Germany, the late Professor George Kahari, the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda.”

Cde Matshalaga said Dadaya was established by missionaries from New Zealand and the idea was to educate the local people so that they could propagate Christianity.

“When the missionaries came in the country, they didn’t come to Dadaya, but first went to Ingome Primary School (in Zvishavane) and that is where we have the first graves of the first missionaries who came to this area. They then moved to a place called Old Dadaya but the problem with that place was that there was no water,” he said.

“When Sir Garfield Todd came in 1934, they then established the school next to where its original place is and he donated that piece of land to the mission.”

Dadaya High School

Cde Matshalaga said at first Dadaya was a teacher training centre before it later moved on to offer academic studies.

“It was the first school to train teachers and established what was known then as the Dadaya Planning Scheme. The whole country had to adopt the Dadaya Planning Scheme, which was pioneered by Sir Todd and his wife, Grace who was also a teacher there,” he said.

Cde Matshalaga said the strike by students at the Dadaya Mission school in 1947 was an important background episode to the rise of African nationalism in Southern Rhodesia.

“During the liberation struggle, Dadaya Mission was where the ideas for nationalism were mooted. I remember when I was a student at Dadaya Mission, we used to have people such as the late Cde Herbert Ushewokunze coming to address us,” said Cde Matshalaga.

He said the school principal, Sir Todd who was a liberal, later became an opponent of white minority rule during the time the country was entrenched in racism.

“The history of the country’s liberation struggle would be incomplete without mentioning Sir Todd, a liberal Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia who later became an opponent of white minority rule,” said Cde Matshalaga.

He said at Dadaya they taught about equality and most of the times they found themselves in situations where they were rejected by other schools simply because they thought they would influence other students on political consciousness and cause harm at schools.

Cde Matshalaga said clandestine political meetings were held at the school with Sir Todd being a thorn in the flesh for the Rhodesian government.

He said Sir Todd and his daughter, Judith, were always in trouble with the Rhodesian government.

“During the liberation struggle most of the time Sir Todd was on restriction and not allowed to set foot on the school though the facility was on his farm. He condemned a suburban white regime representing the minority at the expense of an increasingly political consciousness in the colonial Rhodesia,” said Cde Matshalaga.

Mr Obert Matshalaga

“With his liberal policies, Sir Todd wanted to see Africans being afforded educational opportunities, but there were some hardliners in his party who were against the policy.”

Sir Todd served from 1953 to 1958 as Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi).

By 1961, Sir Todd had joined Cde Sithole as a supporter of African nationalism.

Sir Todd’s tenure in office as a legislator and later Prime Minister focused on increasing or improving African education, fair and decent wages, African voting enfranchise, gender equality for education and jobs and right to land for animal and crop husbandry.

Dadaya High School

Sir Todd died at the age of 94 on October 13, 2002, in Bulawayo and his remains were interred at Dadaya Mission.

Like the more well-known railway workers’ strike of 1945 and the general strike of 1948, a strike by students at the Dadaya mission school in 1947 was an important background episode to the rise of African nationalism in Southern Rhodesia.

Cde Matshalaga said the two main antagonists during the strike were Cde Ndabaningi Sithole and Sir Todd who later played an important role in the struggle for independence. -@mashnets

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