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‘l walked to school bare-footed and on empty stomach’— Rags-to-riches story of an education investor

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By Anna Chibamu

A Qatar-based Zimbabwean businessman and founder of a private school in Bindura, Oliver Mutyambizi says nothing stops one from achieving life goals as long as there was commitment, hard work and making the right priorities.

In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com on the sidelines of the official opening and prize giving day of Lady Enereta High School in Mashonaland Central over the weekend, Mutyambizi urged Zimbabweans to provide services to their communities and shun greed.

“To the Jewels who are here, I have always said this to them and I will keep on saying that nothing supersedes hard work. I have talked to them about my past.

“Whatever you aspire to be, you can. It only takes hard work. There are so many stories of rags-to-riches and I am one of them. I am not saying I am financially rich, richness is not counted by the amount of money that you have in the pocket, but by the knowledge that you have acquired and positively put to use for the betterment of others in the community,” Mutyambizi said.

He added, “It is possible to achieve anything, but it can be done through hard work and dedication. Make your priorities right. Do not seek money first, but seek to provide a service. Let us talk about everyone who is here today, the rich Amazon family, they sought to provide a service and it was out of it that they became rich. Money will come when you give the required service within your community.”

How Lady Enereta High School came into being

Lady Enereta High School project commenced in 2012, but officially opened its doors to students two years ago and has Form one to Six classes.

According to Mutyambizi, it was not easy then because of the Covid -19 pandemic, which led to schools’ closure as government implemented lockdown restrictions to reduce the spread of the deadly disease.

The businessman named the mixed school after his late mother Enereta Mutyambizi.

He described her as an “Education Advocate” who inspired him to further his studies.

“My mother was very influential to me. I came from a very depressing background. My family was very poor and I used to bother my mother on why we were so poor. Went to school barefooted and sometimes skipped meals due to poverty.

“Despite all this, she still encouraged me to work hard and focus on school work. I then made a promise to change her life after completing my education but unfortunately, I could not honour her as promised. It never happened. My mom died when I was doing Form Three.

“I put a lot of effort in school just to make sure our future as a family would improve. In her memory, this is how the school project came into being. I had to build something that would carry my mother’s name forever.

“She was an advocate for education and kept on reminding me of the importance of being educated. I want her name to be remembered for the good things she did for us as a family and others. Her good spirit and love will always be remembered through this project.

“It was not easy but l remain so dedicated that her name will continue to be remembered for the good things she did for me and my siblings.,” said Mutyambizi

Challenges

Narrating some of the challenges, the soft spoken Mutyambizi explained how bureaucracy came into his way in getting the almost 25 hectares where the school is built on.

Also, the financial constraints affected the smooth flow of the project.

“Financially and morally it was not any easy thing to come up with to be where we are today. It’s too draining, but we are happy that we finally got to this stage as we remain committed to the work we started. We wanted the product to come out well.

Vision

Mutyambizi’s vision, among several others, includes the uplifting of the girl child who is vulnerable in the community and international recognition of those who excel in their studies.

He was impressed by the girls’ performance who scooped most of the prizes during the ceremony.

“When I was seated there following the proceedings, I realised it was girl after girl. I shed a bit of tear. I asked myself that ‘Is this going so
well that I am honouring a woman (Enereta) then the girls here are out-performing the boys?’

“We have a girl at this school who is studying on a bursary (Mary Ferando) from Bindura. We have prepared her so well. She was the best student overally among the Form Fours today. We are on a Cambridge International competition right now and today we just honoured another girl. We now have two in a row.”

Ploughing back to the community

For him, excelling is not the only goal, but the students must come back after completing their studies at the institution and serve the communities.

“We want the community to be served by students coming out of this institution. We will continue giving students bursaries to the best students. We are not looking for profits, We are not looking at monetary benefits, but the reward is what the community realises after the girl leaves this school. If we get a doctor, that is a reward.

“My mom passed on in the rural areas and she did not even go to a hospital during her illness. So the doctor is the reward or profit I am looking for. We will continue giving scholarships to the best student knowing that the reward we want is the international recognition they get and the expertise they gain.”

Profession

Mutyambizi is into the construction industry and has been working in different parts of the world.

“My aim is to make sure that we have good infrastructure like this school. I am sure you have seen the confidence in our students today.

“We have invested so much into this and it is still drawing us in terms of resources for us to make sure we have good infrastructure. We want the best for our students so that they can impact others in the communities.

Highly skilled staff

“In terms of our recruitment, we have the best teachers who are young and highly qualified. Our fees are also reasonable. Last year results were excellent —up to 90% pass rate. We will keep on moulding the all rounder student that we want,” a smiling Mutyambizi stated.

Education

Born in Shamva, Tongogara, Gowora area, Mashonaland Central province, Mutyambizi attended Chindunduma Primary and Chindunduma High schools respectively, before leaving for the United Kingdom (UK) where he attained two degrees from South Wales.

“I have been moving from place to place around the globe. Currently I am based in Qatar, but I studied for my two degrees in the UK.”