Renowned educationist, Professor Paul Gundani visited Midlands State University’s Zvishavane Campus on the 7th of March 2017, where he delivered a public lecture titled, “The ‘Just War’ tradition in Zimbabwe historiography: Disentangling the Gordian knot between religion and morality of war and warfare.

In his lecture, Professor Gundani, discussed Zimbabwe’s war history from the 16th century, focusing primarily on the era of occupation and conquest. He highlighted, how early missionaries such as Father Gonzalo da Silveira came to preach the gospel and spread Christianity and the early forms of resistance that met them. Professor Gundani, also outlined the role of Muslim traders and Islam as a whole in influencing early forms of resistance against Christianity, which eventually led to a fully-fledged war.

While it is always difficult to justify war, Professor Gundani cited six conditions that should be satisfied if any war is to be considered just. That is, all other forms of conflict resolution should have been exhausted and proved to have failed; the war must be for a just cause; the war must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority; the intention behind the war must be good; there must be a reasonable chance of success or of winning the war; and the means used must be proportional to the end that the war seeks to achieve. Put in simple terms, war must always be the last resort.

‘The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought. The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered’, he said.

Professor Gundani, also went on to give an overview of the Zimbabwean liberation struggle, highlighting some of the atrocities committed by the white colonial settlers against the black majority, which resulted in the latter taking up arms. He also highlighted the negative effects of war such as death and injury, destruction of infrastructure and the loss of economic resources amongst other things.

In his conclusion, Professor Gundani, noted that the Zimbabwean war was necessary to end the brutality and injustices of the settler regime.

The public lecturer, which was organised by the Theology and Religious Studies department, under the Faculty of Arts, provided an opportunity for members of the University community, among them academics and students, to interrogate and discuss our nation’s history as well as explore the complex relationship between religion and war.

Among those who attended the lecture were, the Zvishavane Campus Director, Professor A. Viriri, Acting Dean of Arts, Dr T. Mashingaidze, Acting Deputy Dean of Arts, Professor H. T. Ngoshi and various other members of the University community.

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