BY PETER MARIMI
GUTU – Situated in the eastern part of Gutu District is Mutero Mission, one of the two big Missions in the District being run by the Catholic Diocese of Masvingo, the other one being Mukaro Mission. Mutero boasts of a primary school, a boarding secondary school, a large clinic that is almost ready to be turned into a fully-fledged hospital and a Mission station that is currently serving almost half of the Catholics found in Gutu District.
Mutero Mission is there today largely due to the efforts of one man, Simon Jeffa Mutero who sadly passed away on Christmas Day, 25 December 2019 at his rural home in Mutero Village under Chief Nyamandi. Simon was born on 15 September 1926 to Moses Mutero Chagwiza and Anna Mutero Chagwiza. He started his primary education doing Sub A and B at Chihon’a and later enrolled for Standard One at Gokomere Mission in 1939. In 1943 while he was in Standard Five he requested Fr Bauer to consider the possibility of establishing a Catholic school in the Mutero area. At that time all the schools in the Nyamandi area were being run by the Dutch Reformed Church. The Catholic Church acceded to the request and Fr Winterhalder made the journey from Gokomere Mission to Mutero village by bicycle to assess the proposed school site while residing at the homestead of Simon’s parents.
The initial application for the establishment of the proposed school failed because the distances between the two schools of Chesvingo and Guzha were not measured as by law schools had to be at least five kilometers away from each other. Simon was then asked to go and do the measurement of which he did using a 100m long rope taking almost two weeks to complete the assignment. The application was then granted in 1945 upon which construction of Mutero Primary School commenced opening its doors for the first time in 1946. Schools were usually given the name of the village they were situated in.
After completing standard six, Simon went to Kutama Teachers College in 1945 for a two year Teacher Training course and commenced teaching at Gokomere Mission in 1947. In 1949 a cyclone wrecked havoc in the Gutu area. Mutero Primary School was completely destroyed and teachers left for Musami Mission. At the request of Fr Bauer, Simon was transferred to Mutero Primary School to spearhead the reconstruction of the school as Head Teacher.
In 1954 the Catholic Church decided to establish a Mission station in Mutero village and Simon was tasked to identify the site. However villagers on whose land the Mission was going to be built refused to vacate their land upon which Simon convinced his father and the Mavedzenge family to give up their pieces of land which they did and in 1956 Mutero Mission was established.
Simon who was affectionally known as simply SJ, was not just a dedicated teacher. In 1969 the late Bishop Alois Haene SMB of Gwelo Diocese applied for and obtained from Rome a dispensation for Simon to do pastoral work at Mutero Mission and the surrounding areas, a task he diligently did for 30 years. In 1979 during the liberation war the white missionaries fled Mutero Mission for their safety and Simon was left in charge of the Mission station. As a pastoralist and church leader he served God and his people in a humble and selfless way.
As a man who was interested in community affairs Simon was appointed councilor for the area in 1957 and in 1980 he was elected councilor for Ward 19 and served his 5 year term after which he retired from politics although he was poised to be elected for a second term due to his popularity.
SJ of the Gumbo Madyirapazhe totem belonged to the Nyamandi Royal Family and was in line for chieftainship. He was buried at his homestead in Mutero Village on Saturday 28 December 2019 leaving behind his wife Margaret, three daughters, a son and several grandchildren. https://masvingomirror.com