Former Mash East regional director Mukandatsama dies

Morris Bishi

Chitungwiza – At 5am on Tuesday, Dennis Mukandatsama, a veteran educationist and former acting regional education director for Mash East breathed his last.

He was 75.

He battled a kidney ailment for years and was buried at his rural home in Mukonyo Village, under Chief Makumbe in Buhera on Friday.

He will be remembered for his passion for education and how he positioned the value of education in many people’s lives.
Mourners testified on how the soft spoken and humble Mukandatsama used education to open doors of opportunities to communities where he lived and worked.

He believed in education as the key to people’s success.

“He would urge parents to send children to school and it would be a case if a parent failed to pay fees for a child. He helped many children from surrounding communities and his extended family with fees,” said a mourner.

A tale is told of how Mukandatsama collected from the rural areas his brother’s son who had dismally failed his O Levels and resigned to being a herdboy. He took him back to school until he passed Form 4 and he is now a successful police officer.
For Mukandatsama a first degree was not enough. He wanted people to get doctorates in their chosen areas of study.
“He believed in education’s capacity to create opportunities and liberate people from the shackles of poverty,” said his daughter Jessica Mukandatsama.

His impact in opening communities to education was immense.

Mukandatsama who retired as the Education Officer for Seke District in 2018 was at the time of his death a part-time Communication Skills lecturer at both UZ and at the Catholic University.

He was acting regional education director for Mashonaland East for two years before he reverted back to his position as the district education officer for Seke.

Jessica described his father as a kind and selfless person who always looked out for underdogs. He placed other people’s comfort ahead of his.

Charles Mukandatsama, one of his sons said his father’s death is a blow to the family. He however said that the proud legacy that he left behind is the family’s source of comfort.

“Our father motivated people to learn. Many people and large communities benefitted from his advocacy for education,” said Charles.

Born in 1945, Mukandatsama started his journey at Munyaradzi Primary School where he did standard 1 up to 3 from 1956 to 1958. He did Standard 4 to 6 at Benard Mizeki Primary and his secondary up to Form 4 at Benard Mizeki Secondary.
He enrolled for teacher training at Mutare Teachers’ College and completed the programme in 1966.

In 1967 he was cutting his teeth in his new profession at Sengwe Primary in Chikomba and he moved to Chivhu Primary in 1970. He taught at various schools in Mash East before enrolling for a Social Sciences Degree at UZ in 1980.

He briefly taught at Nyatsime College after university and was appointed education officer for Seke District. He was appointed acting regional education director for Mash East based in Marondera for two years (1991-2001) before returning to head Seke district until his retirement in 2018.

Mukandatsama’s biggest inspiration was his mother Mbuya Clarah Mukandatsama nee Tapiwa who became a widow he was in his early 20s’.

Mukandatsama is survived by his wife Mufaro Manyame and five children namely Tawanda, Clarah, Tapiwa, Tonderai and Nyasha.

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