Waddilove High School is a Methodist High School in Marondera, Zimbabwe, established in 1891 by Methodist Missionary John White.
The name Waddilove was in honour of Sir Joshua K Waddilove, an Englishman, philanthropist and founder of Provident Financial, who bequeathed 1,000 English pounds which resulted in the construction of two dormitory complexes for boys and girls.
The school transformed from a Mission Station to Teacher Training College.
Some of the school’s former students were in the newly formed government of 1980. Amongst them were; Staleck Samkange, Dr Herbert Usehewekunze, Dr Sideney Sekeramayi.
The school is situated close to Muti Usinazita.
Some of the past headmasters are Mr B.T Chakanyuka, Mr Gwanzura, Mr Murefu, Mr Moyo, and Mr Manhera.
But how did Waddilove Institute come to be? Whose idea was it, when and what was the community’s role in all this?
The roots of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe-run school can be traced back to as early as 1891, when two Methodist ministers of religion, Owen Watkins and Isaac Shimmin arrived in the country to spread the gospel.
But as the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe’s Presiding Bishop, Ndhlumbi noted, there was a need for literacy for people to understand the Bible.
“The Methodist Church’s initial aim, like other denominations, was to convert the indigenous people to Christianity and then to Methodism. For the indigenous people to understand the Bible there was therefore need to introduce literacy schools, hence the establishment of schools,” he said.
In 1892 the Methodist Church brought in black evangelist teachers from the Cape Province of South Africa, as church workers. Among them was Modumedi Moleli, who later went to Chief Nenguwo’s area near Marondera with Shimmin.
He was to play a great role in the establishment of what is now called Waddilove Mission.
When Shimmin left Chief Nenguwo’s area with other church workers, the locals requested that Moleli should remain preaching and teaching in the area.
“By 1894 he had established himself at the village with a small congregation of faithful followers as the basis of his parish. Before long as many as a hundred children were attending Sunday school classes. Starting with recitation of the Bible verses, Moleli’s teaching programme progressed to reading and writing,” according to the book, A Century of Methodism in Zimbabwe.
Despite being a darling in the community, Moleli was however killed by locals in 1896 after rescuing a white farmer, James White who had been injured during clashes between indigenous people and white settlers in the First Chimurenga war.
The tragedy temporarily put an end to activities at Nenguwo School, but after peace had returned Reverend John White decided to reestablish Nenguwo near the shrine of Moleli and thus fulfil his dream.
He began with six pupils, but he changed Nenguwo from an elementary primary school to a centre specialising in the training of church ministers and evangelists and later practical disciplines.
In 1915, Sir John Waddilove donated $1 500 towards infrastructural development at Nenguwo.
“A grateful Methodist Church then renamed the institution Waddilove, the identity by which the mission is still known today. To this day some buildings constructed at the time still bear silent testimony to his generosity.”
By 1927, the enrolment at the school had risen to 405 while the highest academic level was Standard Seven.
In 1966 an experimental scheme for teaching blind students side by side with their sighted counterparts was started, and it became such a success that some of them later went to the secondary school, which was opened in 1966.
One of them, Pearson Nherera, eventually did A-level and proceeded to the University of Zimbabwe where he distinguished himself in the Department of Law, before going to repeat the same remarkable feat at Cambridge University.
More than 100 years on, the institution is still alive and kicking, and still growing.