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    Tuesday, 5 May 2020

    The Chariots and Horsemen of Zimbabwean Psychology:Re-remembering Professor Pilot Mudhovozi (7 August 1969 – 3 May 2019)

    The late Prof Pilot Mudhovozi. 
    By Prosper K. Mushauri and Herbert Zirima
    Professor Pilot Mudhovozi was a Psychologist and Professor in Psychology at Great Zimbabwe University. He shaped the field of psychology in Zimbabwe and beyond. He was optimistic about life and always saw the good in people. As one of his former workmates remarked, “Prof always saw good in everyone. Out of a hundred bad things about someone, he would look for just one good thing that he would hold on to and make everyone see the person using the new lens”. This 3rd of May 2020 marks the first anniversary of his death. This article presents reflections from his former students with regards to his contributions to the field of psychology and higher education in Zimbabwe.
    Former Student 1: During my postgraduate studies I managed to meet Professor Mudhovozi. It was his return to Great Zimbabwe University (GZU), having left before as the Dean of the Faculty of Social Science in 2007, and re-appointed as Dean of Social Sciences in 2016. On his return, he was just an ordinary member of the teaching staff at GZU. Without the administrative positions he was a Psychology Professor, and one of the few in Zimbabwe. It was during our interactions that he shared his views on psychology and the broader views on Universities. The soft spoken Professor Mudhovozi was concerned about two issues; first, was on the need to what he termed metaphorically growing our own timber, and secondly, the issues of non-collegisation of universities.
    Professor Mudhovozi was clear that institutions should develop persons who are able to steer institutions and in particular he was referring to learning institutions. This same principle which he shared transcends educational institutions. If this approach was taken by health ministries and other line ministries we would not have a shortage of psychologists, even in crisis times and non crisis times. The immortal principle shared by the late Professor Mudhovozi would have ensured that all public health institutions with a hospital status would have a resident psychologist to help in mental health crisis. He strongly believed that as a nation we should work towards developing and registering psychologists. Registering psychologists without unnecessary bottle neck systems would have positioned us to be able to send professional psychological expatriates to crises hit nations as has been done recently by our Cuban counterparts who sent medical professionals to help in Italy.
    Professor Mudhovozi was pragmatic on his own principles. In following his principle of growing our own timber he manned the first PhD psychology program in psychology at Great Zimbabwe University and supervised the first psychology PhD student who successfully defended his thesis even before a renowned professor of psychology based in USA. The person whom he has applied this principle to is working on a project, operationalizing his research to help families especially through father-daughter relationships; a first of its kind in Zimbabwe. Through his belief in growing your own timber, psychology as a discipline in the context of Zimbabwe is set to mutually flourish even after his departure, in a proactive manner for the psychological wellbeing of families.
    A shrewd Researcher, Polished Academic
    Former Student 2: Professor Mudhovozi was an astute educationist and a prolific writer, researcher par-excellence. He wrote a plethora of world-class articles that found spaces in renowned journals thorough out the world.  He collaborated in researches funded by various local and international organizations which includes amongst others National Aids Council of Zimbabwe, University of Venda Research and Innovation and Save the Children-UK. In recognition of his contribution to research, Professor Mudhovozi won several research excellence awards. The bibliography of Prof Mudhovozi comprises book chapters, academic papers and publications in peer reviewed journals.
    Former Student 3: He inspired members to set up psychological services for the general public for easy access to psychological services. I remember planning to defer my studies because my son with autism was not stable back home. He, together with Dr Zirima, took their precious time to provide psychosocial support in every way possible. This empowered me and I graduated, registered an organization and I am helping many children with disabilities, all because of him.

    Former Student 4: Prof Mudhovozi transcended the role of a lecturer to that of being an inspiration. He was like a candle in the wind. He was generous with his knowledge for he believed in the saying "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle". I   first met him in 2016 when l was doing my Msc Degree in Counselling Psychology. He could simplify Psychopathology with a smile on his face. He was humble, yet a fountain of knowledge which he would not brag about. He was a rare product of nature in academic circles.
    Former Student 5: It's still fresh in me. How I spent break time with him at the School of Law in 2015-2016. His were "You are such a mature Class Rep. I enjoy spending the break with you".
    Former Student 6: When it comes to Prof   Mudhovozi words always fail me, he was as soft as wool. He viewed life circumstances in his own unique way. He made difficult things look easy. l remember him vividly when we found him standing outside with a smile after we wrote a difficult compulsory question in psychopathology, first exam first semester. He consoled us and we went home stress free. We were robbed of a friend, father, mentor and a great Educational Guru in the field of Psychology
    Former Student 7: When I first met him, I was doing Special Honours Psychology at GZU. Prof Mudhovozi was humble and always made my life in Psychology easy. His words still linger in my mind, 'shingirirai zvinoita' (be resilient it will be fine). He made a mark in my Psychology life and I always wish to cherish his words. Prof Mudhovozi is greatly missed.
    Former Student 8: I met Prof Mudhovozi during my Msc Counseling Psychology studies. He was a humble, soft spoken person who saw potential in everyone. He became my project supervisor and went out of his way to share his knowledge with me. He simplified project writing for me. He later on encouraged me to publish my project. He is truly missed.
    The selfless and humble leader
    Former Student 9: The late Prof Mudhovozi’s leadership qualities were exhibited in how he structured the Department of Psychology and the then Faculty of Natural and Social Sciences before his departure for Doctoral studies at the University of Venda in 2008. He had also acted as the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor. However, in all that he remained so down to earth that you would not know. He maintained very warm relationships with everyone and would take time to interact with even the most despised person. I met him sometime in early 2012 when he had returned to meet his family and I was walking with him in the streets of Chesvingo, someone exclaimed, “ah Dr Mudhovozi, how are you?”. I was shocked, the guy had never told me that he is now a Doctor. So, I challenged him, “but why have you not told me and why do you allow me to continue calling Mr”. his response was a cool, “ah zvine basarei bamdiki, hazvina kana nebasa rose izvi”.
    He returned back to Great Zimbabwe University in 2015 as an Associate Professor. Again, very humble, you would not know or suspect that he is a Professor. As chairperson of the department,  I always felt that I could not lead such a high ranking academic but he made me so comfortable. He continued to show his selflessness by dedicating his time to structure and teach the Msc Counselling Psychology programme. He selflessly worked to supervise Doctor of Philosophy candidates, giving timeous responses even when he was no longer feeling well. He always put other people’s interest before his. He was influential even at the national level, he supported the Zimbabwe Psychological Association’s efforts to increase the visibility and relevance of psychology in the country. He was later re-appointed Dean of the School of Social Sciences but again, you would not know, he would maintain a warm relationship with everyone, very humble and soft spoken. It was because of his selflessness and humility that one lecturer in the School of Education commented at his funeral that “if we were allowed to add a book in the Bible, we would add a book in Mudhovozi honour”.

    Former Student 10: It's like he departed yesterday. We will always cherish this great man.
    (Compiled on behalf of the GZU Psychology Alumni)

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    1. May his soul continue to rest in peace. He was an inspirational leader


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