gogo.jpgMrs Esther Shambadza Zvobgo , mother to the late national hero and veteran nationalist and politician, Cde Eddison Zvobgo has died at the age of 100. 

Mbuya Zvobgo  died in a private ward at Gweru General Hospital, as a result of  cardiac arrest due to old age early Monday morning.

The only girl in a family of  five, Mbuya  Esther Zvobgo was born in Masvingo in 1910 to a well known and successful Chitando family.

She got married to Jonas Mudadirwa Zvobgo who was training as a teacher, carpenter and builder at Morgenster Mission where she was also training as a domestic science teacher in 1930.

It was the same year of their marriage, that their first born Kerina was born, followed by the veteran politician and great legal mind Cde Eddison Zvobgo  in 1935 at Morgenster Mission.

According to a family statement, Mbuya  Zvobgo was a strong willed and sharp-minded woman who became the pillar on which  Sekuru Zvobgo leaned for advice.

During the early 1950s, Sekuru Mudadirwa Zvobgo broke away from the Dutch Reformed Church and established his own church the African Reformed Church, with Mbuya Esther at the centre of the breakaway movement , recruiting and leading women in the new church.

The family says, Mbuya Zvobgo shared a strong conviction with her husband that it was time for Africans to do things for themselves and to educate their own people.

This conviction led to the founding of Shanganiso Mission, 35 kilometres to the East of the Dutch Reformed Church Morgenster Mission, the citadel of the Dutch Reformed Church in the province, a provocative statement as it was a clear African defiance against missionary colonial hold on African people.

Shonganiso Mission was to become the most influential centre of African education and development, and to date, boasts of a modern primary school, secondary school and clinic.

It was however, in the area of philanthropy that Mbuya  Esther Zvobgo became better known when Shonganiso became a thriving centre for orphans and Mbuya Zvobgo became mother to many children who received free education and upbringing, while Sekuru Zvobgo her husband labored to put up physical structures for the mission.

Mbuya Zvobgo became the centre of women’s participation in African development travelling long distances on foot or bicycle to raise funds for construction work.

But Mbuya Esther’s motherly strength was tested during the armed struggle for independence when all her sons were out of the country.

 

Others  were studying or in the war in Mozambique or in prison in Harare and she was left alone with the girls to face the burning war which ravaged that part of Masvingo.

During that time she played mother to the boys who were waging the liberation war providing food and rest and resisted moves by the settler regime to have the mission closed.

 
She regularly visited her children Abisai and Eddison in their various prisons and detention camps and never gave up when times were hard.

Mbuya Esther Shambadzai Zvobgo is survived by 9 children, 59 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.