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Annual Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Academic Memorial Lecture

June 7 @ 9:30 am




“In Memory of Umdala Wethu

African Developmental University, Africa Intellectuals/Scholars and African Futures”



Department of Change, Leadership and Transformation (DCLT), Principal and Vice-Chancellor’s Office, University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria, South Africa



Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo was not only a leading African nationalist; he was also an intellectual of the anti-colonial nationalist struggle for Zimbabwe who contributed not only to the physical liberation of the country but also intellectual imagination of the meaning of freedom and actively played a part in the complex postcolonial nation-building project. His autobiography Nkomo: The Story of My Life (1984) is a testament of his dedication to the struggle and a reservoir of his national vision.  Therefore, this lecture which is in memory of Nkomo focuses on the role of university and intellectuals/scholars in the creation of African futures. This is the most relevant tribute to Nkomo because his vision was that of a peaceful, prosperous, and united Zimbabwe inhabited by patriotic Zimbabweans. He was a strong believer in ‘doing it yourself’ (DIY) in agriculture and other fields of development. This lecture is inspired by the legacy of Umdala Wethu as it delves into the intersections of African nationalism with the university in Africa as well as African intellectuals and scholars. This is necessary because in Africa, the university was largely the gift of African nationalism. Colonial regimes were reluctant to offer higher education to African people. As a gift of African nationalism, the university in Africa was expected to play an active role in the African national project and anti-colonial nationalist revolution. At the centre of the African national project were five key deliverables: (1) nation-building and state-making; (2) cultivation of African consciousness; (3) eradication of poverty and inequality; (4) catching-up with the developed world; and (5) achievement of pan-Africanism.  This memorial lecture returns to this nationalist agenda with a view to assess the role of the university and African intellectuals/scholars in the fulfilment or otherwise of these noble objectives.


Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni was born in Matshetsheni in Gwanda District in Matebeleland South of Zimbabwe. For his primary education, he went to Shake Primary School in Matshetsheni and proceeded to do his secondary education at Nkwidze Secondary School also in Matshetsheni in Gwanda. He did his high school education at Mpopoma High School in Bulawayo before doing his undergraduate and post-graduate studies at the University of Zimbabwe. His academic career began with his appointment as Teaching Assistant (TA) in History Department at the University of Zimbabwe (1995-1999); he became a Lecturer of History and Development Studies at the Midlands State University (2000-2004); Lecturer and Senior Lecturer of International Studies at Monash University (2005-2007); Lecturer in African Studies at the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies at The Open University in the United Kingdom (2008-2009); Senior Researcher in the South African Foreign Policy and African Drivers Programme at the South Africa Institute for International Affairs (2010); Professor of Development Studies at the University of South Africa (2011-2012); Founding Head of  the Archie Mafeje Research Institute for Applied Social Policy (AMRI) (20122015); Director of Scholarship in the Change Management Unit (CMU) in the Principal and Vice-Chancellor’s Office at the University of South Africa (2016-2017) and is currently the Executive Director of Department of Change, Leadership and Transformation (DCLT) in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office at the University of South Africa (UNISA). He is also the founder of the Africa Decolonial Research Network (ADERN) based at the University of South Africa. He is a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated social scientist; a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); a Fellow of African Studies Centre (ASC) in the Netherlands; and a Research Associate at the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies at The Open University in the United Kingdom. Professor Ndlovu-Gatsheni has published over a hundred publications and his major publications include The Ndebele Nation: Reflections on Hegemony, Memory and Historiography (Amsterdam & Pretoria: Rosenberg Publishers & UNISA Press, 2009); Do ‘Zimbabweans’ Exist? Trajectories of Nationalism, National Identity Formation and Crisis in a Postcolonial State (Oxford & Bern: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2009); Redemptive or Grotesque Nationalism? Rethinking Contemporary Politics in Zimbabwe (Oxford & Bern: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2011); Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivity (New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books, June 2013); Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Africa: Myths of Decolonization (Dakar: CODESRIA, 2013); Nationalism and National Projects in Southern Africa: New Critical Reflections (Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2013); Bondage of Boundaries and Identity Politics in Postcolonial Africa: The ‘Northern Problem’ and Ethno-Futures (Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2013); Mugabeism? History, Politics and Power in Zimbabwe (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, August 2015); Decolonizing the University, Knowledge Systems and Disciplines (North Carolina, Carolina Academic Press, April 2016); The Decolonial Mandela: Peace, Justice and Politics of Life (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, March 2016);  Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo of Zimbabwe: Politics, Power and Memory (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017; and Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization (London & New York: Routledge, July 2018).


The 4th Edition 2019 Annual Joshua Nkomo Academic Memorial Lecture, to be delivered by renowned academic and author, Professor Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni under the topic: “In memory of Umdala Wethu, African Developmental University, Africa Intellectuals/Scholars and African Futures” is scheduled for Friday, 7th June 2019 at the Midlands State University (MSU) Campus in Gweru.

The Joshua Nkomo Lecture is part of an annual series of Academic Lectures, in recognition of the sacrifices, strategies and tactics used by Father Zimbabwe and his compatriots to galvanise the kind of consensus that resulted in independence of most African countries. Previous Lectures have been held at the following Institutions: June 2017 – Witwatersrand (Wits) University in Johannesburg, South Africa; September 2017 – Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic, Gwanda and June 2018 – University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Campus Harare. This prestigious event marks the beginning of a series of activities for the 20th Anniversary of the passing of our icon Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo – Father Zimbabwe. The invited delegates to the Lecture will be drawn from students leadership bodies (SRCs) in all our tertiary institutions, Vice Chancellors, Principals and Deans from Universities, captains of industry, government officials and the general public. Our Icon, Dr. Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo is one indisputable luminary and veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation history who invested his entire life to the service of his people and lived to see his political vision and leadership give birth to the modern Zimbabwe. For these reasons the official title of “Father Zimbabwe” has grown around his legacy like a halo of light. In sum, the purposes of the Lecture Series include, but are not limited to the following:

  • To honour and highlight, for the benefit of posterity the rich legacy of leadership, personal sacrifice, patriotism and national reconstruction that have been bequeathed to Zimbabwe by this great champion of Zimbabwe’s Nationalist Movement that culminated in independence in 1980;
  • To recall and uphold the constructive spirit of national reconciliation that informed some of the most selfless decisions of this great nationalist and to celebrate the profound capacity of the man to subordinate and sacrifice narrow sectional interests under the imperatives of the broader and more compelling interests of national unity;
  • To interrogate and explore the nexus and connectivity between education and scholarship, the former as represented by the Zimbabwe education system and the latter as represented by the Joshua Nkomo Scholarship;
  • To explore the power and content of the Joshua Nkomo brand and the trans-generational impact of his leadership and its relevance to modern day and future Zimbabwe, especially given the challenges of the post-colonial developmental State


Directors of Ceremonies: Butholezwe Nyathi and Prof A T Manyawu

09:30HRS – 10:30HRS Viewing of Pictorial Exhibition on the life and times of Joshua Nkomo Butholezwe Nyathi – Regional Director: National Gallery of Zimbabwe
10:30HRS – 10:35HRS Singing of the National Anthem MSU
10:35HRS – 10:40HRS Prayer MSU
10:40HRS – 10:55Hrs Welcome Remarks and introduction of the Hon Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science & Technology Development, Prof. A Murwira Vice Chancellor: Midlands State University, Prof VN Muzvidziwa
10:55Hrs – 11:10Hrs Official Opening Remarks Hon. Prof A. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development
11:10Hrs – 11:15Hrs Musical Interlude MSU Band
11:15Hrs – 11:20Hrs Introduction of the Guest of Honour Pro-Vice Chancellor – Research and Academic Affairs, Prof D Z Moyo
11:20Hrs – 12:20Hrs Delivery of the 2019 Joshua Nkomo Academic Memorial Lecture Professor Sabelo Gatsheni Ndlovu
12:20Hrs – 12:50Hrs Question and Answer Session MSU Dean, International Relations, Prof A T Manyawu
12:50Hrs – 13:00Hrs Vote of Thanks Mr Michael Sibangilizwe Nkomo



June 7
9:30 am
Event Category:


Great Hall