Bernard Mizeki College is a independent boarding school for boys situated in Marondera, Zimbabwe approximately 87 km east of the capital Harare and or 13.5 km north east of Marondera town. It was founded in memory of Bernard Mizeki, an African martyr who died in the Marondera area. The school was established by leading private individuals of the Anglican Church in the then Rhodesia through a deed of trust registered in 1958 at Harare for predominantly African boys.
The school was founded by a group of prominent individuals of both European and African races and both sexes to be a leading high school for African boys though it had been set up with the view of it becoming a multiracial international school., and it was so in the early days. However Bernard Mizeki College did not achieve inter-racial enrollment because the demand for high school places amongst Africans was quite huge while the number of schools which could take them up was extremely low hence the school tended to concentrate on enrolling Africans only. The school is affiliated to the Anglican Church but is an independent school, not diocesan.
The founders had seen the winds of change sweeping across Africa and felt they had to provide high quality education, equivalent to what Europeans were receiving, for the future leaders of an independent Rhodesia. The whole idea behind the school was to bring up well-rounded African leaders in areas of industry, business, education, medicine, law, military and politics. Rt. Reverend Cecil Alderson, like his predecessor Bishop Edward Paget, realised the need for a senior college for Africans had become increasingly urgent, and within a few weeks of his translation from the Bloemfontein Diocese, Bishop Alderson began to investigate ways of meeting it. At the same time Canon Robert Grinham had been working to see the existence of schools for Africans whose facilities equaled or approximated to those of Ruzawi, Springvale and Peterhouse. To this end he devoted his energies after his retirement from Springvale. A steering committee of interested persons was then found under the chairmanship of the Bishop of Mashonaland. With the consent of the trustees of the Diocese of Mashonaland, the land belonging to and adjacent to St Bernard’s Mission was taken over.
The Rt Rev Cecil Alderson, then Bishop of Mashonaland and Canon Robert Grinham, raised one hundred British pounds with which they formed the Bernard Mizeki Schools Trust which was then mandated to establish schools. The trust deed was prepared at Honey and Blackenberg and registered in 1959 while another trust with the same name was registered in the United Kingdom in July 1962 under trust number 313889. A pledge of forty thousand pounds was then made to Bishop Alderson at the Lambeth Conference in London so that the project could be realized. A significant chunk of that money is believed to have come from the Beit Trust and then anonymous individuals well wishers banks and corporates. Thus Bernard Mizeki College was established on two thousand acres of land known as Bovey Tracey Estate ten miles north East of Marondera Town. The estate and surrounding areas had been surveyed and demarcated by a Mr Greathead in December 1899 the estate was then handed to the Church of England and a small school for African boys was established as St Bernards Mission, which later was taken over by the trust with the consent of the Board of governors .The Bernard Mizeki Schools Trust cited as its core objective “To educate pupils in a liberal manner not limited by vocational or examination requirements, with the aim in particular of developing in such pupils the qualities of character and leadership”. At the request of Sir Humphrey Gibbs the founders modeled Bernard Mizeki College on Eton College in the United Kingdom and other private European schools in South Africa and the then Rhodesia.
Architectural designs and a master plan of the school were done by John Vigour in 1959. The actual construction of the College started in 1960 with the arrival Bruce Berrington, together with some artisans who had built Peterhouse. The school was sited amidst brachystegia woodland, a bird-watcher’s paradise, and among the baboon and dassie inhabited granite bouldered kopjes that are so typical of Zimbabwe. This had been the site of St Bernards School since 1891. The first hostel to be completed was Kamungu hostel in 1960 followed by Molele Hostel in 1961. The headmaster’s lodge was the house next to Kamungu hostel before the other staff houses were completed. In those days the current library served as the dining hall and chapel
The school was intended to appeal to the upper African class and charged fees three to four times higher than ordinary mission schools. The first head to be appointed, Peter Holmes Canham a civil servant, came from British West Africa (Ghana). Canham was described as a passionate and charismatic figure eccentric with a fiery, if short-lived, temper. Canham arrived in September 1960 to take up the headship of the College. Upon the commencement of the construction of the College Canon David Neaum left St Bernards Mission for Chikwaka Mission protesting against the construction of the school due to what he considered as the importation of elitism into an Africa crying out for universal education, especially of girls, was iniquitous. Unknown to him was the fact that the African Education Department had already offered another piece of Land near Mutare for a girls school on which now stands St Davids Bonda, the ministry had intentionally decided against making Bernard Mizeki College a co-education institution.
The college opened in January 1961 with 70 Form 1 boys in one Boarding House: Kamungu completed in 1960 followed by Molele completed in 1961. The Building Programme planned the addition of one boarding house every year and ancillary buildings to the completion in 1966 of a college for 420 boys from form 1 to Form 6 in 6 Boarding Houses. Bernard Mizeki Primary School came under the headmastership of Mr. G.F. Coney. After Mr. Coney left for New Zealand Mr. B. Witt became the headmaster of the primary school.
Though Peter Canham was very successful with the students and staff, Canham was always at loggerheads with the Executive Committee, chaired by F. R. Snell, because of the ever-rising costs of the schools activities. During the foundation years the schools income was derived from the Ministry of Educations, African Education Department(AED). The school provided accommodation, buildings, meals and even a sports programme as well as teaching staff mostly Oxford or Cambridge graduates. For a while the school provided horse riding golf out of country tours which increasingly troubled the Board as the school was financed with funds from private individuals, companies and school fees which stood at £120.
In 1964 the first headmaster Peter H. Canham left Bernard Mizeki College and was replaced by Reverend Ronald Glazebrook. Who had been a Chaplain at a girls school in India. Unfortunately he had no experience working in Africa and only served one year and some months and left halfway through the year 1966 and the board had to call in Mr Jimmy Davidson, a retired veteran of the government service, to see the year through as acting headmaster. During the Speech day of 1966 the next headmaster Mr. Andrew Hunt attended to get a feel of the school. Mr Hunt Started his term of office as headmaster of Bernard Mizeki College in January 1967 and immediately set out to work on expanding the school. At the time Father Hunt arrived the college had an enrollment of 190 students. Mr. Hunt himself once said he remembered Fred Snell telling him that 420 boys was the ideal enrollment number at BMC to enable the headmaster to know every boy in the school.
In 1971 the college enrolled its first A level students. The classes were introduced after a few years of hard work, debates, arguments and a bout of cost cutting measures because the Ministry of Educations African Education Department had indicated it would not fund the introduction of Advanced level classes at the school. This was quite a surprising move as the college had been awarded the permission to have Advance levels classes at the time of foundation which was before UDI. The school was then later advised by the ministry under Ian Douglas Smith’s government that they had to re-apply. The Headmaster Father Hunt had to send Mr Richard Ingelesby and Mr Hall to other A Level teaching schools (Chaplin High School and Fletcher High School) to seek advice on how best to introduce Advance Level classes. Despite the negative reports against the move without financial and moral support from the Ministry of Education the headmaster proceeded to introduce A level Physics and Chemistry converting a trunk and luggage room into laboratories Mr. Peter Bazeley did most of the work to redesign the new labs. All this was done without consultation with the Executive Committee.
The current dining hall was constructed under the headmastership of Father Andrew Hunt. Because of the rapidly growing number of students in the school Kapuya Hostel was then built with funds from the Beit Trust and was completed in 1975. This was not enough to ease the accommodation situation in the school the board of governors then decided to use one of the building that had belonged to the primary school. The building was converted to a hostel and named Masemola.
By the time Father Andrew Hunt retired the enrolment had risen to 320 boys, he relocated to Mutare and became board chair for St Davids Bonda in Mutare. Due to the liberation war at that time the expansion of Bernard Mizeki College stalled for a number of years the Ministry was no longer providing funds for the schools expansion. After Father Hunt left, the Rev. Leslie Davies was appointed to the post of Headmaster of Bernard Mizeki College. Unfortunately his term of office did not last long because of the murders of surrounding farmers and a number of priests and nuns at the nearby St. Pauls Musami. After the incident at Musami, the Rev. L. Davies was advised by the local police to leave the school as they could not guarantee his safety and that of the students. The board of governors immediately appointed Mr. Chiadzwa to take over as headmaster of the College avoiding having to completely shutdown the school as other schools like Eagle School in Manicaland had been shut down in the 60s because of the war. Father Davies relocated to Cape Town.
The expansion of Bernard Mizeki College stalled for a number of decades primarily because the Ministry of Education which heavily aided the school had stopped providing funds for the schools expansion and also other well wishers and individuals who had been financing the college had also stopped funding the school that even the planned separate girls school failed to take off. This also initiated a number of years whereby the school went into an identity crisis and operated like a mission school.
In October 1999 the college received a grant of twenty one thousand British pounds from the Beit Trust for the construction of a school hall. Actual construction of the hall commenced in 2000 and was completed in the year 2002.
The patrons during the foundation years were
Sir Humphrey Gibbs
Lord Ellis Robins
The board of trustees
The board of trustees at the time of founding had the following individuals
Sir Robert James Hudson
Sir Stephen Courtland
Mr. Grafftey – Smith
In 2010 one of the long serving trustees Robert “Bob” Stumbles died. At that time Stumbles was the only trustee still serving on the board leaving the trust with no trustees to continue however in 2011 leading lawyer and former student of Bernard Mizeki College Honour Mkushi was appointed to the Board of Trustees and is the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees
Board of governors
A board of governors was entrusted with the management of business of the trust and oversee the day-to-day running of the college, a full board of governors occurs when the Bishop of Mashonaland chairs that particular meeting. They manage the college through the executive committee and the headmaster who was appointed by the executive committee is an ex-officio member of the board. The governors are the custodians of the College Trust and are answerable to the Board of Trustees who in turn report to the College Patrons. Members of the first board of governors included the Rt. Reverend C. Alderson, Adv. Herbert W. Chitepo, F. R. Snell. In 1961 an Action committee was formed to spearhead construction and expansion of the college and the primary school as well. The Action Committee was chaired by Mr. G.R.A. Johnson and reported to the Board of Governors.
The post of headmaster like any other post in the college is advertised and applications are invited. The headmasters are appointed by the Board of Governors after some extensive interviews and consultations. The Board then submits shortlisted candidates to the Ministry of Education indicating their choice on the same list and the Ministry conducts a background check on the selected candidate as well as the shortlisted candidates. If there is need the ministry can object the appointment of any candidate however does not have the power to block or refuse the appointment.
Name of Headmaster From To Number of Years Old Boy
1 P. H. Canham September 1960 December 1964 4 No
2 The Rev. R. Glazebrook January 1965 July 1966 1.5 No
3 J. Davidson August 1966 December 1966 5 Months No
4 Fr. A. H. Hunt January 1967 August 1975 8 No
5 Fr. L. Davies August 1975 March 1978 3 No
6 R. Chiadzwa May 1978 December 1983 5 No
7 L. Chikodzore January 1984 April 1989 5 No
8 O. M. Ndowora May 1989 December 1989 7 Months No
9 F. J. Matambanadzo January 1990 December 2000 10 No
10 M. Nyahwedegwe* January 2001 April 2007 6 No
11 E. M. Mbuwayesango May 2007 December 2011 4 No
12 T. Nheweyembwa January 2012 incumbent Yes
Most of the founding staff members of Bernard Mizeki College left after Mr. Canham left the college in December 1964. Some of the staff members included Jean C. Farrant author of the book Mashonaland Martyr: Bernard Mizeki and the Pioneer Church. Mr. Michael Pocock who went on to head St Mary Magdalene’s School, Inyanga and St Stephen’s High School, Mohale’s Hoek in Lesotho for 21 years, he died on September 16, 2010. Other staff members who have passed through Bernard Mizeki College include Professor Levy Nyagura who is now the Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe and Mr. J. Kugara who is now Chairperson of the chemistry department at the University of Zimbabwe. C. Warinda is the Deputy Headmaster at the college and has co-authored a book on the Shona language grammar titled Dudziramutauro which has gone to be included in the syllabus. The Current Headmaster P Nheweyembwa is also a former student at the college.
The boys are organised into four hostels which are also their houses, namely:
Named after Leonard Mattiya Kamungu, an Anglican Priest from Malawi who had served as a curate mostly in Nkhotakota and the surrounding region of central Malawi and was ordained a priest in 1909. Kamungu engaged the services of teachers from Malawi and he built a network of schools and utilized the teachers’ services extensively. Kamungu died in 1913, possibly poisoned by his cook. Kamungu Hostel was completed in 1960 and was the first hostel to be completed and by the time the school first opened its doors it housed the first batch of 70 boys to attend form 1 at Bernard Mizeki College. The hostel currently houses the College Captain and his Vice and has a common room for resident student’s entertainment
Modumedi Moleli was a Methodist preacher stationed at Chief Nenguwo’s area near Marondera with Isaac Shimmin. Moleli and Bernard Mizeki had been close friends. Moleli was later killed a few days after Bernard Mizeki in June 1896. Molele Hostel was constructed in honour of Modumedi Moleli in 1961 and completed in the same year. The hostel also has a common room for resident students’ entertainment
Named after John Kapuya the first Shona convert to be baptised was one of Bernard’s young men, John Kapuya, baptised exactly a month after Bernard’s death, on 18 July 1896.John Kapuya was sent to Natal for training and worked many years as a catechist and teacher in Mashonaland. Upon his death he was buried at the Bernard Mizeki Shrine. Kapuya Hostel was completed in 1975 financed with a grant from the Beit Trust. The hostel currently houses the Form One (Grade 8) students. The Hostel is also attached to its own common room for resident students’ entertainment.
Named after Manche Masemola a simple South African girl who died for her faith at the hands of her non-Christian parents. Born around 1913 in the Transvaal. Her parents feared she would leave them and not marry the person they would select as her husband. On February 4, 1928, her parents led her to a secluded place, where they killed her, and buried her by a granite rock on a remote hillside. The Hostel was opened in the late 70s to ease the rapid growth in student numbers and demand for boarding places at the school and in 2016, a new Masemola Hostel was opened after the old laboratories were remodelled and converted to be the new Masemola Hostel therefore replacing the old one. The hostel has its own common room for resident student’s entertainment
Association of Trust Schools
On 19 October 1962 Bernard Mizeki College became a founding member of the Association of Trust Schools (ATS) represented by Mr G.C.V. Coppen at the inaugural meeting which also saw the formation of the Conference of Independent Schools Heads (CHISZ). As of July 2016 the College is not a member of the CHISZ ATS, however negotiations are underway to rejoin. The College is currently a member of the International Boys Schools Coalition.
The College and the Primary School
The college was under the headmastership of Peter Holmes Canham, whilst the Bernard Mizeki Primary School was under the headmastership of Mr. G.F. Coney. Canham headed Bernard Mizeki College for 4 years and was succeeded by Reverend R. Glazebrook. The two schools (the college for secondary education, the school for primary) were under the same Board of Governors. The schools were heavily aided by the Ministry of African Education of Southern Rhodesia Government. Planned expansion was slowed down for a time by the lack of financial Support, but by 1963 the number of pupils reached 180 in the College and 140 in the school. Boys who had passed through the primary school would automatically qualify to attend the college. Under the headmastership of Mr. P. Nheweyembwa the college has embarked on a number of developmental projects thus the College was awarded the Secretary’s Bell Merit Award for Best School in Mashonaland East for 2014.
The school uniform has categories whereby there is the Number 1 uniform primarily worn when traveling or when there is a special function at the college this is made up of a charcoal grey trousers white shirt, a peach blazer with an embroidered school badge on the left breast pocket and a maroon school tie embroidered with the schools badge as well. During day-to-day routines at the college upper sixth and lower sixth formers wear charcoal grey trousers a blue shirt and a tie denoting their area of study. Form ones to form fours wear charcoal grey shorts and shirts with the school tie. Juniors are only allowed to wear trousers in the winter that is the second school term of the year.
Motto and school badge
The college’s motto is in Latin: Liberavi animum meum, lit. ‘I have liberated my mind’ and means “I have liberated my mind”.
The school badge was designed by a Mr Watambwa who was one of the artisans involved in the construction of the college in 1960. The badge depicts a shield with a cross on it with two spears running down across at slanted angle. A martyr’s crown sits atop the cross. The college’s motto is printed on a ribbon below the shield.
The role of school captain has been entrenched in the school culture. In the foundation years the school captain was elected by the students and in those days he was referred to as the President. He headed the Senate made up of the prefects body who represented their constituencies which were their hostels and other areas within the school which needed student leaders. The first school captain was in fact Lovemore Manata however he left the school in 1962 and the second to be elected was Jackson Kawonza who is on the Roll of Honours in the College dining Hall as first school captain instead of Lovemore Manata.
The four hostels in the School are headed by a Head of Hostel followed by his Vice then a Senior prefect and a Junior prefect. These prefects are normally selected by the residents of the hostel though the administration and staff at times can have the final say in the selection. In the mid nineties there were cases were prefects were chosen from one hostel and exported to another. This caused tensions especially with those hopeful would be prefects who would have been denied the opportunity to land the leadership roles in their own hostels. Some students went on to speculate that this was being done to give the leading sports men leadership roles while denying some students with more obvious leadership qualities for these posts.
The role of Sports Captain was created in 1997 with the aim of giving the students an opportunity to manage their own sports affairs and also to lobby the school administration for introduction of more sports. In some cases the Sports captain acted as the team manager when ever school teams attended sports tournaments in other schools and around the country. The first sports captain to be elected was the now late Hilton Mahlahliwane.
The college aims to provide an academic curriculum that provides pupils with a broad-based educational experience. Introduction of more specialised subjects has taken place in the last few years the options available enable pupils to take a combination of academic or commercial or practical subjects. In the 2014 academic year Bernard Mizeki College was ranked 53rd nationally and 7th in Mashonaland East Province attaining a pass rate of 96.97% with a candidature of 33 boys for Advanced Level studies. In the same year the college attained an 86.11% pass rate with 71 boys having sat for the ZIMSEC Ordinary Level examinations and was ranked 29th nationally. These results sparked an outcry among parents and the former students who demanded the school to improve its performance in public examinations.
The college was the only African school allowed to play cricket, rugby, hockey, Tennis, Softball, and golf before the independence of Zimbabwe; this posed a serious challenge as the teams could only play a few matches for these sports per season with other independent schools, which were quite few, while government schools for Africans did not have the privilege to play such sports. Because of the lack of sufficient competition some of the sports were dropped in favour of Soccer, Basketball and Volleyball.
Bernard Mizeki College excels in the area of sports and has performed well in the NASH Under 20 Coca-Cola Soccer tournaments in 1995, 1996 and 1999 coming losing in the finals twice in 1995 and 1999 and lost in the semi final in 1996. The College won the Dunlop Under 16 Soccer Tournament in 1994 and hopes to repeat this feat having qualified for the 2015 under 16 Copa Coca-Cola tournament in Bulawayo representing Mashonaland East. In 1997 the college also represented Mashonaland East at the Under 20 Peter Ndlovu Tournament. The rugby team has also done well at the COTTCO Rugby Festival and improved their play over the years.
In recent years the college has introduced its own Rugby Tournament held once every year in June on the Saturday nearest to Bernard Mizeki Day. The college has managed to win it for the last four years. The school is looking to introduce more similar tournaments for cricket and hockey. Basketball hosts its tournament in the second term of the year known as The Flames Basketball Tournament while the Volleyball tournament is held in the third term.
The old hockey field and cricket field were constructed under the headmastership of father Andrew Hunt. it is during his time that the sports on offer were expanded. The fields were cleared using a scrapper which was a farm implement for the estate. Currently the school has embarked on constructing a new set of sports field on the eastern side of the school from the basketball courts going down all the way to Masemola Hostel.
The college in its founding years participated in quite a number of cultural events. The school choir was frequently invited to sing some hymns at the Harare Cathedral every term. With the help of staff members parents and other well wishers there would be an annual school play, unfortunately these have fallen away with the frequent change in headmasters over the last half century headmasters sadly come with their own priorities because of lack of strong governance
The school used to stage the Bernard Mizeki Play every year at the Bernard Mizeki Shrine on the eve of Bernard Mizeki Day was observed
In November 2015 the cabinet adopted a civil services report which recommended the withdrawal of funding for teacher salaries employed at private schools due to the current Economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. The government grant was used to pay salaries for seventeen teachers stationed at Bernard Mizeki College. The government argued that teachers at private schools alone gobbled about $70 million United States dollars in salaries and allowances. This move has forced the college to engage parents on how best to reach an agreement on this issue. The agreements have to be presented to the ministry of education. The affected teachers last received their salaries from government Salaries Services Bureau in July 2016