Gordon Lloyd Chavunduka was a Zimbabwean Politician who played a role in the fight for the country’s independence. Aside from his involvement in politics, the very versatile Dr Chavunduka was also a traditional healer, sociologist, author and academic who contributed to each of these sectors in huge ways.
Dr Gordon Lloyd Chavunduka was born on August 16, 1932, to Solomon and Lillian Chavunduka in Penhalonga, St Augustines Mission, Zimbabwe. His parents were not of influential status thus, the family lived a very normal life. Gordon, however, rose above his status to become a very influential person in his country.
After working as an agricultural instructor, his father later resigned from the position to become a farmer and Anglican priest. It’s his father’s great knowledge in herbs and plants that developed Gordon’s interest in herbs and plants and their traditional use for healing process which he believed worked better for Africans.
Gordon received a quality education in Zimbabwe, South Africa and later the UK and USA. He started school in 1940 at the age of 6 and after completing Standard 4, he was sent to South Africa by his father for further studies.
At the time, education in South Africa was way advanced and people in other southern African countries moved into the country for further studies. Gordon returned to complete his O levels in Zimbabwe due to the high level of instability in South Africa at the time. He went on to
bag several degrees to his name such as a certificate in education, a degree in sociology and doctorate in philosophy.
While in school, he read extensively on plants and herbs and often practised usage with any that he could find. His keen interest led him to attend Alvord School of Agriculture and later worked with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Gordon retired from civil service after being asked to further his studies in sociology in a personal letter from a professor in the field. He later taught Sociology briefly at the University College of Rhodesia after returning to Africa in 1966.
Dr Chavunduka made his entry into politics in 1969 after returning from the UK where he attained his Doctorate in Philosophy. He became the President of the NPU, a liberation party that sought to attain the independence of Zimbabwe after the two relevant parties in existence had been banned with several of its leaders and members detained.
According to the Colonial Relic, Dr Chavunduka was not particularly interested in politics but decided to lead the NPU to fill the gap that the loss of the ZANU and ZAPU had created to keep the momentum and struggle for a free nation going.
With the collapsing of the NPU due to internal problems, Dr Chavunduka was invited to take the role of Secretary-General for the ANC after the arrest of John Chirisa who was then the Secretary-General in 1972. With this position, Dr Chavunduka was invited to England by then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson in 1974 creating more discussion for Zimbabwe’s independence. He later resigned from politics in 1977 but played a significant role in giving advice and strategies that led to Zimbabwe’s freedom.
Aside from his work in politics, Dr. Gordon Chavunduka also promoted traditional healing methods and the use of indigenous plants and herbs. He wrote several papers and books on the topic of traditional medicine and healing as well as in sociology and philosophy. He also authored more than 12 books in both English and Shona on traditional healing, witchcraft and agriculture.
He served as the president of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association and was also the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe from 1992 to 1996. He also became a senior member of the MDC-T Guardian Council mainly to give wisdom and direction to the leadership.
On January 11, 2013, Dr Gordon Chavunduka passed away at 83 after a short battle with an illness. He left behind a wife who he married in 1960 and 4 children. His death was marked by the Zimbabwean government as a loss to the nation and Africa.