ON November 18, 2015 many of us around the globe woke up to the shocking and devastating news of the untimely passing away of Professor Lindela Rowland Ndlovu. A common question raised in social media was why Lindela Ndlovu left us so soon? Why did he leave our hearts with holes that cannot be filled, and why do the good die young and thieves live longer? Or put differently in the isiNdebele proverb: “Isitsha esihle kasidleli.”
Even as we grapple with these questions, we are reconciled to the fact that there is a time to be born and a time to die. We take comfort in the words of scripture that while “…Weeping may last through the night … joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Thus, as we observe your sudden departure while reflecting on our own mortality; we celebrate your contributions, excellence and humanity in enriching us.
Professor Lindela Ndlovu was a tour-de-force in academia, leadership, mentorship and community building in Zimbabwe, regionally and internationally. As Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), a position he assumed in October 2005 until November 10, 2015, Ndlovu oversaw the growth of NUST, Zimbabwe’s second largest premier university from three initial faculties to six while simultaneously promoting non-conventional academic offerings such as parallel programs, block release programs, etc.
The latter has not only expanded access and opportunity to students in the region, and working professionals nationally, but also afforded NUST the ability to grow alternative revenue streams. Thinking outside the box takes unique leadership that is always intent on expanding boundaries while influencing others. These were the hallmarks of Lindela Ndlovu’s leadership.
The leadership qualities exhibited by Lindela Ndlovu did not evolve overnight but over years of dedication to serve his country and others through a career that spanned 27 years in higher education. He rose from a Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe to full Professor. Ndlovu served as post-graduate Coordinator and Department Chair, Deputy Dean and Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at UZ, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor at NUST. As Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Zimbabwe he spearheaded a major curriculum review and initiated inter-departmental research programs.Advertisement
As Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), he was instrumental in the development and adoption of an institutional ICT policy and strengthening research capacity. Beyond Zimbabwe, Lindela Ndlovu served as Professor of Animal Science and Head of Department at the University of the North, South Africa, prior to answering the call from his mentor Professor P. Makhurane to join NUST as Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic and Research) in 2001.
An exceptional academic and acclaimed scholar, Lindela Ndlovu’s research interests revolved around interactions between nutrition and reproductive performance of small ruminants; interaction between nutrition and heat stress on work output in draught animals; nutritive value and utilization of indigenous and exotic browse/tree species; and improving productivity of small ruminants in the communal areas of Zimbabwe.
This body of research has resulted in over 70 publications in refereed scientific journals of international repute, 3 books and 30 book chapters including 3 invitational chapters, in addition to over $1 million in funded research throughout his career. As a teacher and mentor, Lindela Ndlovu impacted both undergraduate and graduate students in the classroom and as aspiring researchers.
During his tenure at various capacities, he supervised over 100 undergraduate honours projects, 30 Masters’ thesis and 15 doctoral dissertations as well serving as an external examiner at 15 universities in the world. It is significant to note that most of his PhD students have gone on to become established professional animal scientists in government research institutes, universities and the private sector. And yet, he still found time to serve his professional community including being Guest Editor for a special volume on Tannins for the Animal Feed Science and Technology journal after serving on the editorial board of the same journal for two years.
In recognition of his research, Lindela Ndlovu was awarded the International Foundation for Science /DANIDA award for Excellence in smallholder livestock research in 1998, The University of The North Distinguished Science Researcher award in 2000, the South African Society of Animal Science Gold Medal for Research in 2007, and the Research Council of Zimbabwe Presidential Award for Agriculture Research (Animal Science) in 2013. He also won the Manager of the Year award for the Public Sector from the Zimbabwe Institute of Management in 2007 for his leadership of the National University of Science and Technology.
Beyond the academy, Lindela Ndlovu’s footprint was also firmly established in both the public and private sector in Zimbabwe. Professor Lindela Ndlovu was a founder member of the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences and served as Board Chairman of the Cold Storage Company of Zimbabwe, and was a member of the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education.
He also served on research evaluation boards for several grant awarding bodies including the International Foundation for Science, the Research Council of Zimbabwe, the ZIMRE Actuarial and Medical Research Trust and the National Research Foundation of South Africa as well as on the Boards of Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre, Chemplex, Olivine Industries, and Agricultural Marketing Authority.
Lindela Ndlovu received his B.Sc. in Chemistry/Biology (First Class) from the University of Sierra Leone in 1978, M.Sc. in Agricultural Biochemistry from the University of Wales (UK), and a Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition from the University of Guelph (Canada) in 1985. He was a proud graduate of Mzingwane High School.
Lindela Ndlovu will be greatly missed by his colleagues at NUST, by his many students, by all those in the academic fraternity whom he has inspired, and above all by family, friends and the Bulawayo community. He will be remembered for his groundbreaking accomplishments in his discipline, his many contributions to higher education in Zimbabwe and beyond, and his dedication to the National University of Science and Technology. Lindela Ndlovu’s legacy will endure.
Cherished friend, parent, leader, mentor and dedicated servant rest in peace and may light perpetually shine on you.
Professor Calvin O. Masilela, a contemporary of the late NUST Vice-Chancellor, spent a sabbatical at NUST-IDS in 2014 as a visiting scholar where he taught Research Methods to Post-graduate students in both Bulawayo and Harare. He is based in the United States.