The Nehanda-Chidyausiku connection

Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku 
My brother, Chief Justice Godfrey Guwa Chidyausiku, was born in a family of eight which lived in Domboshava, Goromonzi.

Our father was the son of Shambare, a Chief in Chishawasha. Our mother was Chief Chiweshe’s daughter. Furthermore, from the maternal side, our great-great grandmother was homwe yaMbuya Nehanda, VaJamwe. VaJamwe gave birth to VaKoswa; ndivo vakazvara baba.

Paul is the first-born in our family followed by the girls – Theresa (late), Esther, Violet Bhunu, Dolores and Maria. Then there’s Godfrey and I.

Godfrey and I always joked that we were “GMO babies” because my dad had been having girls only! Godfrey was born on March 1, 1947 and attended Mdhake Primary School before moving to Makumbe for upper primary education.

For that opportunity to go to school, tribute must go to Paul, who is the former editor of Mambo Press.

At Makumbe, Godfrey was among the students selected to pioneer St Ignatius College in 1962. St Ignatius College was a sister school to St George’s College.

The Jesuits wanted to create a similar institution because they were not allowed to recruit like St George’s, but were able to build a multi-racial community. Godfrey excelled at school. He did his A-Level and qualified for university in 1968, and studied Law at the then University of Rhodesia.

After graduating, he became a barrister. At the time, advocates were not allowed direct access to clients.

But he, Edson Sithole, Maruza, Sandura and Dr Zvogbo formed the African Bar Association which had its own procedures of briefing clients. Godfrey was politically-active at university.

I was in secondary school then, and would see him and others demonstrate and disrupt Rhodesia Front meetings. He was also very active in the Pearce Commission.

That political consciousness came from the history our parents taught us – the history of our great grandparents who were displaced from their land. It was the history of Mbuya Nehanda.

Godfrey’s political outlook was also shaped by Dr Edson Sithole, a Zanu Central Committee member who was released from prison in the mid-1970s. They were good friends as both were lawyers.

When Sithole was abducted and disappeared, Godfrey was supposed to meet him but got delayed. On that day, Godfrey was in the office. Something came up and he was unable to meet Sithole at the agreed time.

And when he got to their rendezvous, Sithole was gone.

He always spoke about that incident, saying “If I had been five minutes early, I would also have gone because even Dr Sithole’s personal assistant was abducted, too.”

The abductors, it appears, didn’t want witnesses. In retrospect, the delay saved his life. In 1974, when nationalists were released from prison, Godfrey, Dr Sithole and Mukushi moved around with them. A relationship had been established as the nationalists used to consult Godfrey from prison.

He was to be invited to the Lancaster House Conference to provide legal advice to Zanu in the patriotic formation.

He and others also did legal work for Zanu just before the 1980 elections. He was then selected on the list of Zanu candidates for Mashonaland East in 1980 as the format was one of proportional representation.

He won the election and was appointed Local Government and Housing Deputy Minister and later Deputy Minister of Justice. In 1982, he became Zimbabwe’s first black Attorney-General at the age of 35. His term ran up to 1987 when he was appointed judge of the High Court. He became Judge President and, subsequently, Chief Justice.

In Godfrey, one finds a nationalist and lawyer who served the interests of Zimbabwe’s majority. He was able to say the law must protect the interests of the majority.

For example, when we talk about property rights, whose property rights are we talking about: the minority or majority?

That was the land issue. He also upheld the judiciary’s dignity. The provisions that have been provided to magistrates and judges have given them the respectable lives required of the judiciary.

Godfrey had a passion for agriculture. We would spend hours talking farming. His farm is in Mashonaland East where he grew corn, tobacco and wheat.

This season, he had 150 tonnes of tobacco despite having lost 80 hectares of the crop to hailstorms.  As he retired, he spoke about cattle-rearing, undertaking to breed hundreds of cattle and leave tobacco to his son. He had bought breeding stock from one university and from Justice Hlatshwayo.

I will always remember him because he was passionate. Once he made up his mind, he would do things in a big way.

We had sibling rivalry when it came to farming. He would say, “Don’t do maize, you won’t make money. Do tobacco.” But I would tell him I had 170 hectares of maize and he had less. At the beginning of every farming season, I wanted to outdo him.

So, this sibling rivalry in agriculture is one area I will remember my brother for. Now he is gone – I have no one to compete with.

He was always ready to advise and guide me where legal issues were concerned.  We would argue: I, from a diplomatic-historical point of view, and him from a legal point of view. Whenever we met, we looked at issues from those perspectives.

When he retired, he came to visit me at the farm because I was unwell. We spoke for hours, but suddenly, he was unable to visit me again because he was not feeling well.

I last saw him on the Saturday he was in hospital. I told him I had received a message from the Office of the President and Cabinet which said the President wanted him to go to South Africa (for treatment). He was very grateful for the President’s generosity.

My brother was honest and capable of taking decisions with conviction. He was patriotic, nationalistic and a family man who loved his children. He had 11 of them and always said the legacy we can give to our children is love.

We never had any serious conflicts in the family. Last year, he organised for our families to go to Nyanga for Easter. And last Christmas, the whole family was at his house, and on New Year’s Day, everyone was at my farm.

We enjoyed each other’s company.

Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku shared these views with The Sunday Mail’s Chief Reporter Kuda Bwititi in Harare last week, and they formed the bulk of his delivery at the burial of National Hero Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku in Harare on May 13, 2017

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