A Giant Among Men: A Tribute To Mr. Godo

Mudzidzisi Mukuru

(At our October 2016 Mentoring Workshop held at Rujeko Primary, CLUBHOUSE co-founder and trustee Alex Kuhudzai presented veteran educator and CLUBHOUSE ally extraordinaire Mr. Godo with a tribute compiled to him by various directors: here it is in full!)

“True to the enduring tradition of the African society, every high-density neighborhood in Zimbabwe is defined by a beautiful, if not inevitable, sense of communalism. By the time children are in second or third grade, they know the names of dozens of their neighbors, where their rural home is, where their parents work, among other things. In the MaOwnership neighborhood of Dangamvura, we all knew who the default leaders of the community were: there was my grandfather- the ‘doctor’ and dispute negotiator; there was Mr. Chimutondo, the funny yet uncompromising tuck-shop owner…

 And there was Mr. Godo, veteran educator unparalleled, community activist, and neighborhood conscience.

When I started primary school (1993), I found Mr. Godo as headmaster at Sheni Primary School. By then, he was already seasoned: my mother and aunts told stories of how he had been their teacher two decades earlier. They would tell of the fear and respect he would instill in students through a combination of his stern talk and his heavy-handed discipline (“Uncle from Jo’burg,” anyone?) and also the adoration and gratitude they had for him as an educator and essential communal uncle figure.

As we grew up in Dangamvura, we developed our own appreciation of the man. Within a year or two of my starting at Sheni, he had transferred to preside over Rujeko Primary. Despite the rivalry between the two schools, Mr. Godo could waltz into either and command utmost respect.

Away from school, we would wait for Mr. Godo to come down the street, and delight in his funny, innovative handshakes and fist-bumps. At Christmas time, he would dress up as Father Christmas and give little toys and balloons to the neighborhood children. Bear in mind that, at that time, Father Christmas- the jolly White man in the big departmental store in the city- was largely out of the reach of many Dangamvura kids. To have the revered educator and community elder step into that role to ignite some seasonal cheer speaks to his ultimate character: an unwaivering commitment to the uplift of the Dangamvura (and, by extension, Zimbabwean) child.

When CLUBHOUSE International began to take shape, I had not seen Mr. Godo in over ten years (having been away from Zimbabwe for six of those.) While memory evades me as to who put forth the idea of having Mr. Godo be our chief ambassador, there was no further discussion from then on- he was the only man who embodied the values and work we set out to do.

Four years later, we are eternally grateful to Baba Godo for his commitment to Dangamvura over the years, and to the CLUBHOUSE cause since its inception.

Mwari varambe vachikusimbisai. Tatenda.”

Shingi Mavima
Exec. Director – CLUBHOUSE International

“A village with its own elder does indeed have its own adornment.

Such is the privilege that the Dangamvura community enjoys. To be blessed with the presence of such an educated yet modest, talkative and vocal yet well disciplined, all-knowing yet meek, and popular and loved yet humble man. Whilst the complete character of the Honourable Mr. D. Godo cannot be exhausted by words, it is definitely worth trying. At the age of 6 years, 1990, we (my twin brother and I) remember attending to the office of the then headmaster at Sheni Primary School with our beloved parent (mbuya vama twins). We had just been denied an opportunity to enroll for grade 1 on the basis that we were too young. The school was very close to our home and would have been an ideal choice. With our hopes on the headmaster, the old man endorsed the decision as well and we had to try our luck at a rival school further away from home.

A few years later the same headmaster would be transferred to our school marking the beginning of our journey with him as a teacher, parent, role model. Our relationship was cemented by our joining the marimba band, which he was fond of. Fast-forward to a few years later, he acted as a commissioner of oaths for our bundle of documents and a character reference for our application for the presidential scholarship that was successful. He became a father to us, chipping in when we basically had no food at home, providing both financial and material assistance. He gave us the first ties we ever wore when we were secured part time employment at OK Supermarket and in the process enabling us to complete our studies. Whilst one may overlook the simple gesture of giving us neckties, it was such a grand gesture for us, as we could not afford to purchase any. With such a mentor in our midst, I did not hesitate to elect him to be part of my contingent for lobola negotiations. As always, his wisdom was so evident to such an extent that i felt had I not had any money, I would still have been given the bride for free. And there goes the story, a many whom we feel deserves more from the country and community he served, an educator whose hands have nurtured various professionals, a blessing to those who have known him, and probably a curse to the bums of those who were once spanked by him. God bless his soul.”

 Aleck Kuhudzai
Trustee- CLUBHOUSE International

“Since September 2012 to this day, the relationship I have had with Mr. Godo has grown from strength to strength. He is the one who introduced me to the community of Dangamvura. I remember the first day I met him, he took me on a walk from his house to Rujeko Primary School and then to Sheni Primary School, quite a remarkable guide he was, telling me about the history of the suburb, the history of the schools and their names. As we took our walk, we met all kinds of people, big and small, old and young, everyone seemed to know him, some would pull over their cars and would offer us a ride, to which he would kindly decline, as he was taking this young man on a tour of Dangamvura. He would introduce me to everyone we met as a young professional who had come to help the people of Dangamvura through his brand new organisation, and to the school heads and members of stuff he would introduce me as ‘The Director, Mr. Matavire’ and being literally just a guy in college at that time, that was a very humbling title coming from a man whom I had heard so many great things being said about him.

As far as CLUBHOUSE programs and administration is concerned, the man has been a mentor, a guide and an inspiration in times when we all felt that the future looked bleak. I still use the template that he gave me to do our programs and scholarships finance records and reports. He has a way about him that makes you feel in charge and yet at the same time showing you how it is done, especially when he feels you are taking the wrong course of action. One day while we were at Sheni Primary School, a certain teacher called him ‘Mr. CLUBHOUSE’, such a befitting title, I honestly do not think that we would have been able to come this far without his guidance and wisdom. He is such a well of knowledge and information; he seems to know everything about everything and everyone (he will tell you the origins of your clan). The 10 minutes you plan to spend with him will always turn into an hour or two, and conversations with him will leave you feeling refreshed and wiser, ready to take on life. He is like a father to me now, I am welcome in his home like a son and every time I get there Mrs. Godo is quick to make tea, such a loving couple whose love for one another and people in general is a story that I’ll need another day to tell.

Long live Elder Godo, a blessing to humanity.”

Nyasha Matavire
Exec.Director- CLUBHOUSE International (Zim) 

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